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Keywords:

  • race/ethnicity;
  • African American;
  • twins;
  • major depression;
  • overeating;
  • binge eating

ABSTRACT

Objective

Although prior studies have demonstrated that depression is associated with an overeating–binge eating dimension (OE-BE) phenotypically, little research has investigated whether familial factors contribute to the co-occurrence of these phenotypes, especially in community samples with multiple racial/ethnic groups. We examined the extent to which familial (i.e., genetic and shared environmental) influences overlapped between Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and OE-BE in a population-based sample and whether these influences were similar across racial/ethnic groups.

Method

Participants included 3,226 European American (EA) and 550 African American (AA) young adult women from the Missouri Adolescent Female Twin Study. An adaptation of the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA) was administered to assess lifetime DSM-IV MDD and OE-BE. Quantitative genetic modeling was used to estimate familial influences between both phenotypes; all models controlled for age.

Results

The best-fitting model, which combined racial/ethnic groups, found that additive genetic influences accounted for 44% (95% CI: 34%, 53%) of the MDD variance and 40% (25%, 54%) for OE-BE, with the remaining variances due to non-shared environmental influences. Genetic overlap was substantial (rg = .61 [.39, .85]); non-shared environmental influences on MDD and OE-BE overlapped weakly (re = .26 [.09, .42]).

Discussion

Results suggest that common familial influences underlie MDD and OE-BE, and the magnitude of familial influences contributing to the comorbidity between MDD and OE-BE is similar between EA and AA women. If racial/ethnic differences truly exist, then larger sample sizes may be needed to fully elucidate familial risk for comorbid MDD and OE-BE across these groups. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2014)