Researchers have identified a genetic link for eating disorders.
Professor Howard Steiger from McGill University, Montreal revealed the discovery in epigenetics last week, which explains how adverse development can cause mental health problems.
"'The science of epigenetics is relatively new. Epigenetics helps explain how adverse development, stress, malnutrition and other influences can affect development of mental-health problems - including eating disorders," the Age quoted Professor Steiger as telling the National Eating Disorders Collaboration National Workshop.
"It's very significant. If eating disorders are about anything, they're about the ways in which environments switch on hereditary vulnerabilities," the Age quoted him as saying.
"'It will give us a better understanding [about] how it is that some people develop an eating disorder. It's not due to moral weakness or character flaws, but real susceptibilities, for which we can find real physical evidence," he said.
By identifying the genes Professor Steiger hopes to develop a test and even medication.
The findings of the study were presented at a conference in Adelaide last week.