Overeating May Be In The Genes


A young person's genes may be responsible for their episodes of binge eating, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the University of Queensland and the University College London Institute found that genetic variations associated with obesity risk could also predict binge eating, or excessive over eating with a lack of control over what's being consumed. About 10 percent of adults and teenagers binge eat.

"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," researchers David Evans said in a statement. "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 behaviors in adolescence that can lead to obesity."

For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from 6,000 adolescents aged 14 and 16.

They found that if a young person had a particular variation in the location of the FTO gene, they were between 20 and 30 percent more likely to indulge in frequent episodes of binge eating.

They found that the pattern was particularly evident in girls, who were 30 percent 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 behaviors come about," Evans said. "It's very complex because the tendency to binge is a behavior influenced by many different genetic and environmental factors."

The findings, which are detailed in the journal Obesity, could lead to a better understanding of why people develop binge-eating tendencies.

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