Teenage girls with anxiety potentially at greater risk of developing eating disorders, Bristol study finds

Teenage girls with anxiety could be at greater risk of developing eating disorders, researchers from the University of Bristol have found.

Data collected from young girls between 13 and 18 years of age revealed a connection between clinical anxiety disorder and not eating - the researchers found this could lead to eating disorders such as anorexia.

The joint study was carried out by academics at the University of Bristol and University College London, using data from Bristol's Children of the 90s study.

They said their findings could help identify young girls at risk of eating disorders and help prevent them from developing.

Nearly 2,500 girls from Bristol were involved in the research, which has now been published in European Eating Disorders Review.

According to the results, the risk of regular fasting in girls who met the criteria for an anxiety disorder two year prior to the study was twice that of girls who didn't have an anxiety disorder.

They also found fasting to be predictive of the development of anorexia.

This would support the possibility that anxiety can increase the risk of showing early symptoms of eating disorder syndromes, researchers said.

Dr Caitlin Lloyd, from the University of Bristol and lead author of the newly released study, said "Increasing our understanding of disordered eating behaviours and eating disorders is a necessary step in improving outcomes of prevention efforts."

She continued, "This is particularly important given the high burden of eating disorders, and their associated risks, with anorexia having one of the highest mortality rates of all psychiatric disorders."

An eating disorder charity also responded to the findings of the study.