Ballet Dancers and Familial Risk
Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
January/February 2003 Volume 14, Number 1
©2003 Gürze Books
Ballet dancers are known to be at high risk for developing eating disorders based on the demands on appearance and high levels of physical activity. They may have an additional challenge—an underlying familial risk for eating disorders. Dr. Kelly L. Klump and colleagues recently compared the rates of eating disorders in ballet dancers with and without a family history of psychopathology. Eating disorders and other Axis I disorders were assessed in 32 ballet dancers and 90 of their first-degree relatives, using structured clinical interviews.
Dancers with at least one relative with an Axis I disorder were twice as likely to have an eating disorder than dancers without any affected relatives. When family histories of eating disorders alone were compared, ballet dancers with family histories were 13 times more likely to have an eating disorder than dancers without a family history of eating disorders. Thus, there is preliminary evidence that there is a familial and possibly a genetic risk that underlies development of an eating disorder among ballet dancers. The group reported their study at the recent Eating Disorders Research Society annual meeting in Charleston, South Carolina.