To examine whether there is an association between individual and family eating patterns during childhood and the likelihood of developing an eating disorder (ED) later in life. The sample comprised 261 eating disorder patients [33.5% [N=88] anorexia nervosa (AN), 47.2% [N=123] with bulimia nervosa (BN) and 19.3% [N=50] with Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)] and 160 healthy controls from the Province of Catalonia, Spain, who were matched for age and education. All patients were consecutively admitted to our Psychiatry Department and were diagnosed according to DSM-IV criteria. Participants completed the Early Eating Environmental Subscale of the Cross-Cultural (Environmental) Questionnaire (CCQ), a retrospective measure of childhood eating attitudes and behaviours. In the control group, also the General Health Questionnaire-28 (GHQ-28) was used. During childhood and early adolescence, the following main factors were identified to be linked to eating disorders: eating excessive sweets and snacks and consuming food specially prepared for the respondent. Conversely, regular breakfast consumption was negatively associated with an eating disorder. Compared to healthy controls, eating disorder patients report unfavourable eating patterns early in life, which in conjunction with an excessive importance given to food by the individual and the family may increase the likelihood for developing a subsequent eating disorder. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Eating disorders
- Eating disorders not otherwise specified
- Eating patterns