Professor David Evans from the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, along with a team from the University College London Institute of Child Health has found that binge-eating among teenagers might be associated with a genetic variation. The new findings were recently published in the research journal Obesity.

Binge-Eating In Teens

Professor Evans explained that approximately 10 percent of teenagers and adults binge-eat, which is defined as excessive over-eating without being able to control what they eat. He stated that researchers had previously established that involvement of genetic and environmental factors led to eating disorders. However, limited data was available regarding the role of specific genes in increasing the likelihood of such behaviors in teenagers and adults.

Professor Evans added that finding such a gene variant could lead to a more comprehensive understanding of why certain people develop binge-eating tendencies in early adulthood, putting them at risk of becoming severely overweight or obese.

The Findings

The research team collected data from 6000 adolescents between the ages of 14 and 16. Analysis revealed that genetic variations were indeed associated with an increased likelihood of binge-eating or obesity.

Professor Evans pointed out that unique pattern was observed particularly amongst girls. It was observed that if a young girl had a variation in a particular location of the FTO gene, their tendency to binge-eat was increased by 20 to 30 percent.


Professor Evans stated that the research was still in its early stages, but researchers were getting closer to attaining a better understanding on the development of eating disorders. He explained that it would take time to comprehend the entire process because of its complexity – the involvement of genetic and environmental factors.

“In the future, findings such as these may help create strategies for identifying teenagers at-risk before they get to the stage where they are overweight or obese, and face various health problems associated with these issues”, he added.