Binge Eating Disorder: A Family Study

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
January/February 2006 Volume 17, Number 1
©2006 Gürze Books

Binge eating disorder, or BED, is often associated with obesity. However, according to results from a multi-center family study, familial and genetic factors make BED a distinctly different form of obesity.

Dr. James Hudson and colleagues conducted a blinded family interview study of 300 overweight or obese probands with and without BED, and 888 of their first-degree relatives. The object was to assess whether BED aggregates in families, and also whether BED aggregates with other eating disorders or with major mood disorders.

As Dr. Hudson reported at the Eating Disorders Research Society meeting in Toronto last fall, BED aggregated strongly in families, independently of obesity. BED also showed little coaggregation with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or major depressive disorder (although the authors noted that the ability to detect coaggregation with depression may have been lessened by restricting the study to obese or overweight probands). BED did coaggregate with bipolar disorder.

Genetic factors are involved in BED

The researchers concluded that BED is a familial disorder that is attributable to factors at least partly independent of those for obesity, and partly shared with those for bipolar disorder. When these findings are combined with evidence from earlier studies of twins, it appears that BED involves some genetic factors.

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