Before we dive into all the scienc-y goodness of a potential genetic cause for binge eating, I want to address all the people who believe that…

  • Obesity isn’t genetic, and…
  • Obesity is as simple as calories in vs calories out, and…
  • Fat people use genetics as an excuse for their slothful behaviour

Here are the FACTS….as I see them:

  • There is a link between obesity & genetics.

Prader-Willi syndrome is caused by a gene missing on part of chromosome 15. Normally, your parents each pass down a copy of this chromosome. Most patients with Prader-Willi syndrome are missing the genetic material on part of the father’s chromosome. The rest of patients with this condition often have two copies of the mother’s chromosome 15.

The genetic changes occur randomly. Patients usually do not have a family history of the condition.

This doesn’t mean that all cases of obesity are due to genetics. All it means is that there is a confirmed link between obesity & genetics. Whether this current study will establish another link and expand our knowledge of human obesity is yet to be determined.

  • Obesity is not as simple as calories in vs calories out.

A growing body of scientific evidence + over 20 years of helping people get fit has led me to believe that obesity is due to a messy combination of genetic inheritance, eating too much food, eating the ‘wrong’ foods, eating at the wrong time of day, peer pressure, environmental conditions, advertising, etc, etc, etc….

And even if obesity was as simple as calories in vs calories out, it isn’t simple to get people to live the rest of their lives counting calories…thanks to all that peer pressure, environmental conditions, advertising, etc.

  • Fat people quite often use genetics as an excuse for their obesity.

Just like the rest of us who also blame our shortcomings on outside influences. If it isn’t over-eating, it’s over-drinking or over-smoking or over-screwing or secretly being addicted to the music of Justin Bieber. We all BS ourselves. That’s part of being human.

And even if we find that there is a genetic cause for binge eating, that doesn’t mean we will find a “cure”. Obesity isn’t a simple condition with a simple solution…IMHO.

Anyway, them’s the facts as I see ’em….for now. Future science may prove me completely wrong. Let’s try to keep an open mind and we might just find a solution to our weighty problem.

Let’s Get Back to the Science

In this latest study, Dr. Kelly Klump used “two strains of rats, numerous cans of vanilla frosting and a theory to move one step closer to finding a genetic cause for binge eating.”

“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,” Klump said. “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.”

  • Dr. K used two strains of rats (23 Wistar females, 30 Sprague–Dawley females, 30 Sprague–Dawley males) to determine if one/both/neither strain was prone to binge eating.
  • For two week, the rats were fed their normal ‘rat chow’ along with intermittent feedings of vanilla cake frosting.

“We only gave the rats the vanilla frosting every other day because that mimics human binge eating habits,” said Britny Hildebrandt, a grad student in the Klump lab.

What did they find?

  • Dr. Klump et al found that the rate of vanilla frosting binge eating was much higher in female Sprague-Dawley rats.

Wistar females and Sprague–Dawley males had similar responses to the frosting and were classified as binge eating resistant…unlike the female Sprague-Dawley rats…who were classified by Dr. Klump as binge eating prone.

What does this mean & where do we go next?

According to Dr. Klump, “now that we know that the female Sprague-Dawley rats are prone to binge eating, this helps narrow the scope of the thousands of possible genes that could contribute to this disorder. We can now study the strain to identify the genes that might contribute to the disease.

From there, we can map these genes in humans. If we can narrow down to 20 or so genes, then we are one step closer to finding an effective treatment for binge eating.”

Of course, all of this science is going to take time. Even if they find a treatment for binge eating, it’s going to be years from now.

Just enough time for current binge eaters to stop BS-ing themselves and look for ways to help control their own binge eating tendencies….even if their genetics are fighting against them.

Reference

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