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Genes Lead Teens to Binge-Eat

Genetic variations associated with obesity risk can also predict binge-eating, according to research published in Obesity.

“About 10% of adults and teenagers binge-eat, said Prof David Evans of The University of Queensland’s Diamantina Institute. “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 analysed data from 6000 adolescents aged 14 and 16, and found a young person with a particular variation in the location of the FTO gene was 20–30% more likely to binge-eat.

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,” he said. “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.”