ACCORDING to recent findings, familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) may be associated with an increased risk of eating disorders.
Eli Bjørnøy Urke, research assistant at the University of Oslo, Norway, and colleagues, conducted a novel study “to investigate if individuals with genetically verified FH, who are likely to have received extensive diet- and lifestyle counselling, have a higher risk of incident [eating disorders] compared to age- and sex-matched controls.”
The study included 5,602 individuals with genetically verified FH (diagnosed between January 1992 and May 2014) and 110,526 age- and sex-matched controls. The mean age at the start of follow-up was 37.5 years in the FH group and 37.2 years in the control group.
In both populations, eating disorders were more prevalent in females. In the FH group, 94.3% of those diagnosed with an eating disorder were female. Similarly, in the control group, 88.4% of those with an eating disorder were female.
Eating disorder incidence rates per 1,000 person-years were 0.64 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.45–0.88) in the FH population and 0.39 (95% CI: 0.36–0.43) in the control population. Additionally, individuals with FH had an elevated risk for developing eating disorders compared with controls (hazard ratio: 1.67; 95% CI: 1.18–2.35). This difference was more pronounced in females (hazard ratio: 1.78; 95% CI: 1.24–2.54).
Summarising the study results, Urke and colleagues wrote: “Although dietary counselling for FH is important and not very restrictive (mostly in line with national guidelines), the desire to comply with the dietary treatment to reduce risk of premature disease, may lead some patients to develop an unhealthy relation with food.” Going forwards, more research is needed to elucidate the potential triggers of eating disorders in FH. It is also necessary to determine how this may impact treatment and later cardiovascular risk.