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Gender differences in binge-eating: a population-based twin study


Dr Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud, The Norwegian Institute of Public Health, PO Box 4404, Nydalen, N-0403 Oslo, Norway


Objective: To assess whether genetic and environmental effects on liability to binge-eating (BE) are of equal importance for males and females and whether the same genetic risk factors predispose to BE in the two sexes.

Method: Questionnaire data on 8045 same sex and opposite sex twins, aged 19–31 years, from a population-based Norwegian registry, was used to estimate the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors to liability for BE utilizing structural equation modeling.

Results: In the best-fitting model, the magnitude of genetic and environmental effects on BE was the same for males and females. Heritability was 51%. The correlation between genetic risk factors in men and women was estimated to be +0.57.

Conclusion: Binge-eating appears to be equally heritable in males and females. Although the majority of the genetic risk factors are shared between the sexes, there may exist gender-specific genetic effects on liability.