What next for eating disorder genetics? Replacing myths with facts to sharpen our understanding

Laura M. Huckins, Rebecca Signer, Jessica Johnson, Ya Ke Wu, Karen S. Mitchell, Cynthia M. Bulik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Substantial progress has been made in the understanding of anorexia nervosa (AN) and eating disorder (ED) genetics through the efforts of large-scale collaborative consortia, yielding the first genome-wide significant loci, AN-associated genes, and insights into metabo-psychiatric underpinnings of the disorders. However, the translatability, generalizability, and reach of these insights are hampered by an overly narrow focus in our research. In particular, stereotypes, myths, assumptions and misconceptions have resulted in incomplete or incorrect understandings of ED presentations and trajectories, and exclusion of certain patient groups from our studies. In this review, we aim to counteract these historical imbalances. Taking as our starting point the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) Truth #5 “Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses”, we discuss what we do and do not know about the genetic underpinnings of EDs among people in each of these groups, and suggest strategies to design more inclusive studies. In the second half of our review, we outline broad strategic goals whereby ED researchers can expand the diversity, insights, and clinical translatability of their studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3929-3938
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


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