Broad Eating Disorder Symptoms Linked to Later Alcohol Problems

After accounting for baseline alcohol problems, only bulimia in men and women and drive for thinness in men are linked to later alcohol problems.

HealthDay News Broad eating disorder symptoms are associated with later alcohol problems, according to a study published online June 23 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Leon Hirvelä, M.D., from the University of Helsinki, and colleagues examined the longitudinal association of broad eating disorder symptoms with alcohol problems in a nationwide twin sample (FinnTwin16) composed of 1,905 women and 1,449 men. Participants self-reported their eating disorder symptoms at a mean age of 24.4 years in 2000 to 2003. Alcohol problems were assessed at the age of 34.1 years in 2010 to 2012.

The researchers observed an association for eating disorder symptoms with later alcohol problems (odds ratio, 1.02 to 1.18 per point increase). For bulimia, associations were stronger for men than women. Drive for muscularity and height dissatisfaction were also associated with later alcohol problems, but no association was seen for supplement use. Only bulimia (among women and men) and drive for thinness (among men) were significantly associated with later alcohol problems when accounting for baseline alcohol problems. In within-twin pair analyses among dizygotic twins, but not among monozygotic twins, bulimia was significantly associated with later alcohol problems.

“Broad eating disorder symptoms were associated with later alcohol problems,” the authors write. “With the exception of bulimic symptoms, most of these associations were attributable to baseline alcohol problems.”

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