Researchers are closer to finding the genetic cause for binge eating and may be getting closer to an effective treatment.
Rats much easier to study without the psychosocial baggage
“Based upon our previous research, we know that binge eating is influenced by genes, but we have been unable to identify in humans which genes contribute to binge eating. With this research, we decided to study two different strains of rats instead of humans,” explained Kelly Klump, MSU professor of psychology. “Unlike humans, animals do not have the cultural, psychological or psychosocial risk factors for binge eating, so they are simpler to study. A rat could care less what it looks like.”
Finding the rats prone to binge eating narrows down the genetic source
Two strains of rats were studied: Sprague-Dawley and Wistar. For two weeks Klump and her team ran a feeding experiment, giving the rats their usual foods but intermittently added vanilla frosting. “We only gave the rats the vanilla frosting every other day because that mimics human binge eating habits,” said Britny Hildebrandt, a graduate student from the Klump Lab. The Sprague-Dawley rats feel into the binge eating routine faster than the Wistar rats. With that information they are able to get a little closer to identifying the genes which control the behavior.
Binge eating affects more women
Buy a ratio of ten to one, women experience binge eating more often than men. The disorder can last for years and have serious health consequences. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.
“Women with eating disorders suffer tremendously and deserve to have this on our national agenda with funding for continued research,” Klump underscored. “For far too long, people have thought that females with eating disorders are just vain girls who want to be pretty. Eating disorders deserve the same level of attention, treatment resources, and funding as other disorders, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. No one would say someone is schizophrenic because they just want to think interesting thoughts.”
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Michigan State University