Eating disorders are more common in females than in males and are believed to be caused, in part, by biological and hormonal factors. Digit ratio or 2D:4D (the ratio of the 2nd to the 4th digit) is considered to be a proxy for prenatal testosterone (PT) and prenatal oestrogen (PE) exposure. However, how 2D:4D may be related to type of eating pathology is unknown. The relationship between 2D:4D and eating disorder diagnosis was investigated in recovered and currently eating disordered (n=31) and control (n=99) women. Mean 2D:4D ratio was significantly lower (indicating higher levels of PT and lower levels of PE) in anorexic (AN) compared to bulimic (BN) women, with controls intermediary. In eating disordered women, 2D:4D was positively and significantly related to current weight, lowest weight and current BMI, with strongest associations for right 2D:4D. Among women, low 2D:4D is related to AN and high 2D:4D to BN, suggesting a differential causal influence of prenatal sex hormones on later eating pathology.
Quinton, S., Rose Smith, A., & Joiner, T. (2011). The 2nd to 4th digit ratio (2D:4D) and eating disorder diagnosis in women. Personality and Individual Differences, 51(4), 402-405. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2010.07.024