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OBJECTIVE: We investigated whether parental eating disorders (ED) predict ED in children, using a large multigeneration register-based sample. METHOD: We used a subset of the Stockholm Youth Cohort born 1984-1995 and resident in Stockholm County in 2001-2007 (N = 286,232), The exposure was a diagnosed eating disorder in a parent; the outcome was any eating disorder diagnosis in their offspring, given by a specialist clinician, or inferred from an appointment at a specialist eating disorder clinic. A final study sample of 158,697 (55.4%) had data on these variables and confounding factors and contributed a total of 886,241 person years to the analysis. RESULTS: We found good evidence in support of the hypothesis that ED in either parent are independently associated with ED in their female children (HR 1.97 (95% CI: 1.17-3.33), P = 0.01) and that ED in mothers are independently associated with ED in their female children (HR 2.35 (95% CI: 1.39-3.97) P = 0.001). Numbers were too low to permit separate analysis of ED in parents and their male children. CONCLUSION: Eating disorders in parents were associated with ED in children. This study adds to our knowledge about the intergenerational transmission of ED, which will help identify high-risk groups and brings about the possibility of targeted prevention.

Original publication




Journal article


Acta Psychiatr Scand

Publication Date





51 - 59


anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, eating disorder not otherwise specified, eating disorders, intergenerational, Adult, Child, Child Behavior, Child of Impaired Parents, Cohort Studies, Feeding Behavior, Feeding and Eating Disorders, Female, Humans, Male, Parent-Child Relations, Parents, Sweden