Looking for eating disorder support in your area? Visit HelpFinder

Largest ever study of eating disorders launches in England

Researchers at King’s College London have launched the largest ever study into eating disorders. Partnering with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) BioResource  and the eating disorder charity Beat, they aim to recruit at least 10,000 people in England who have experienced an eating disorder at some point in their life to a pioneering new study that aims to unlock the secrets of eating disorders. 

The Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI) will help researchers better understand these conditions and enable the design of new treatments aimed at improving the lives of patients. EDGI will facilitate the discovery of new genetic and environmental risk factors and by creating a ‘bank’ of potential study participants who agree to be recontacted for further research, will speed up the pace of research into the most under-researched set of psychiatric disorders. 

Geneticist and study lead, Professor Gerome Breen, NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, said, “With EDGI, we hope to discover new genetic and environmental risk factors and provide a platform that will increase the amount of research being done in the field. We want to make research into eating disorders faster, cheaper and more effective to meet desperate need for more effective treatments.”

Psychiatrist and clinical lead, Professor Janet Treasure, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London said  “We want to recruit participants across the whole range of eating disorders; we want to understand common risk factors and how to develop both general and specific treatments for these serious and life threatening conditions.”

Beat’s Chief Executive, Andrew Radford, said: ‘It’s become increasingly clear that there are genetic factors involved in eating disorders and this crucial study will help to further our understanding and knowledge of these complex mental illnesses. It is particularly heartening that this study will cover all eating disorder diagnoses, including those where there is a serious lack of research. We hope that studies such as these can lead to more tailored treatments for eating disorders, and in time prevent them from developing in the first place.”

Hope Virgo, a mental health advocate and campaigner for eating disorder awareness comments, “I am absolutely delighted to be supporting EDGI because research into eating disorders is crucial. Eating disorders completely take over lives, and yet there is still a lack of understanding around treatment, prevention and support. That is why EDGI is so important to take this one step further."

Shanel, an Ambassador for Beat notes: “Having suffered with an eating disorder for 10 years and now fully recovered, I do not wish the experience on anyone. Instead, I support more research into the field and why the EDGI is so valuable. I will be taking part in the study and hope others can join me in this tremendous opportunity for research.”

EDGI, funded in England by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) BioResource. The NIHR BioResource is a national resource of (currently) over 150,000 people - with and without health problems - who are willing to be approached to participate in research studies investigating the link between genes, the environment and health and disease. It is based at centres around England and is funded by the National Institute for Health Research.

The NIHR Mental Health BioResource is an arm of the NIHR BioResource, which aims to increase participation of people with mental health disorders in medical and psychological research. For EDGI, participants will also be recruited into the NIHR Mental Health BioResource.

Visit to find out more.