Anorexia is not just a psychiatric problem its roots may also be in a sufferer’s genes, researchers have claimed. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

London - Anorexia is not just a psychiatric problem - its roots may also be in a sufferer’s genes - researchers have claimed.

A study of 17 000 people with the eating disorder suggests many are missing the signal which tells them they are hungry.

Their genes show they are biologically programmed to have a healthier balance of cholesterol, less body fat and to better regulate their blood sugar. It means they may see greater results from dieting and could struggle to gain weight.

Experts say anorexia is both a psychological disorder – linked to depression, anxiety and OCD – and a biological one.

Academics, jointly led by King’s College London, conducted the largest genetic study of men and women with anorexia. Comparing them to more than 55 000 people without the disorder, they found eight genes which were different. Four were related to psychological problems, the other four linked to the metabolism.

The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics. Co-author Professor Janet Treasure from King’s College said: "It may well be the case that metabolic differences are acting together with psychological problems."

Daily Mail