Genetic link to teen binge-eating


young man binge-eating a burger and drumstick

Binge-eating in teenagers may be linked to a gene variation, according to new research from the University of Queensland.

The UQ Diamantina Institute’s Professor David Evans and a University College London Institute of Child Health team have analysed data from 6000 adolescents aged 14 and 16 and found that genetic variations associated with obesity risk could also predict binge-eating.

Prof Evans says finding the gene variation could lead to a better understanding of why young people developed binge-eating tendencies.

“In the future it may also help us create strategies for identifying at-risk teenagers before they get to the stage where they are overweight or obese and face the many health problems associated with these issues,” he says.

“About 10% of adults and teenagers binge-eat, which we define as excessive over eating with a lack of control over what they are eating.

“While it’s known that a combination of genetic and environmental factors lead to eating disorders, until now there has been limited research into how specific genes increase the likelihood of binge-eating behaviours in adolescence that can lead to obesity.”

The researchers found that if a young person had a particular variation in the location of the FTO gene, they were between 20% and 30% more likely to binge-eat.

Professor Evans said the pattern was particularly evident in girls, who were 30% more likely to binge eat if they had the variation.

“It’s still early days in the research but we’re getting a better understanding of how these behaviours come about.

“It’s very complex because the tendency to binge is a behaviour influenced by many different genetic and environmental factors.”

The research is published in the Obesity research journal.

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2 Comments

  1. Lillian Johnson
    21/07/2015

    Obesity isnt genetic neither is binge eating.

    Why do people make it so much complicated when it comes to obesity, because all you need to do is to follow a diet and you would be able to lose weight instead of genetics or whatever.

    I was overweight few months ago and it isnt genetic, that doesn’t mean i could not lose weight. I just followed the diet of lisa plog and lost 22 pounds. Google for “lisa plog diet plans” and you would be able to find her diet.

    Instead of associating hereditary or genetics with obesity, just follow a diet and lose weight.

    • EricGlare
      21/08/2015

      I think it is inconceivable that any mammal would not have genetic control of eating and therefore it is inconceivable that there would not be genetic variations associated with excessive eating that leads to obesity. That would contradict everything we know about genetic variation and biological processes. Think about it. The only other option is that eating occurs by chance like a sponge waiting for the current deliver.

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