Your Genes: appetite and binge eating
Did you know your individual genetics can tell you whether you are slightly, moderately, highly or not likely to have an increased appetite and a lower satiety response?
What is binge eating?
Binge eating is characterised by episodes of rapid, uncontrolled, and excessive food consumption. These episodes are not necessarily driven by hunger, or metabolic need and individuals will tend to eat until they feel uncomfortably full1.
The biology behind binge eating
Men and women of any age can develop a binge-eating disorder, but it typically starts in the late teens or early 20s10. Many factors, such as dieting, strict food-restriction stress and haphazard meal planning, have been shown to increase the risk of binge eating6,7, 8,9. Many studies have also indicated that genes influence a person’s predisposition to this condition too11,12,13,14,15.
Other than the likelihood of being genetically affected by binge eating, emotional eating is also important to understand. Emotional eating is often a learned behaviour (for example, when an upset child receives ice-cream, it may contribute to an unhealthy association between being upset and eating comfort food). Taking everything into consideration, it’s clear that binge eating is a complex multifactorial condition that can be influenced by an individual’s emotional state. If you feel that you’re experiencing binge-eating tendencies, the best thing to do is talk to your GP.
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- Waters A. (2001), ‘Internal and external antecedents of binge eating episodes in a group of women with bulimia nervosa’, Int J Eat Disord, 29(1):17-22
- Davis, C. et. al, (2007), ‘Personality and eating behaviours: A case-control study of binge eating disorder’, International Journal of Eating Disorders, 40:243-250