Familiality and heritability of binge eating disorder: Results of a case-control family study and a twin study

Authors

  • Kristin N. Javaras PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts
    • Waisman Center, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705
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  • Nan M. Laird PhD,

    1. Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud MD,

    1. Division of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
    2. Institute of Psychiatry, University of Oslo, Norway
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  • Cynthia M. Bulik PhD,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    2. Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Harrison G. Pope Jr MD,

    1. Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • James I. Hudson MD, ScD

    1. Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
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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

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