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Keywords:

  • binge eating disorder;
  • binge eating;
  • case-control family study;
  • twin study;
  • familial aggregation;
  • heritability

Abstract

Objective:

To estimate the familiality and heritability of binge eating disorder (BED).

Method:

We used a new ACE structural equation model to estimate heritability from a case-control family study of BED conducted in the Boston area. The sample consisted of 150 overweight/obese probands with lifetime BED by DSM-IV criteria, 150 overweight/obese probands without lifetime BED, and 888 of their first-degree relatives. We compared our findings with those from a study of binge eating (in the absence of compensatory behaviors) among 7,831 Norwegian twins.

Results:

The prevalence of BED differed by sex and by age. In the case-control family study, BED was found to aggregate in families, and heritability was estimated as 57% (CI: 30–77%). Including shared environment did not substantially improve the model's fit, nor did allowing sex-specific heritability. Findings from the twin study were similar.

Conclusion:

BED appears to aggregate in families and have a significant genetic component. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord, 2008