'Binge-eating' gene could be one of the causes of obesity

Around 10% of adults and teenagers binge-eat Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA

British scientists have found a gene which they believe might be a cause of binge-eating.

Around 10% of adults and teenagers binge-eat - which is characterised by excessively over-eating with a feeling of losing control over what they are consuming - and binge-eating is most common in individuals who are overweight or obese.

And while it is long established that a range of factors can contribute to compulsive over-eating, not much research has focused on how specific affect eating behaviours in adolescence which cause obesity in adulthood.

But a team at UCL's Institute of Child Health believe they have found a variation of a gene that they hope will allow a better understanding of why binge-eating develops, and be able to inform the development of future preventative strategies for teens at risk before they become overweight or obese.

They analysed data from 6,000 participants between the ages 14 and 16 and investigated genetic variations associated with higher BMI and obesity risk to see if they also predicted binge eating.

The pattern was particularly evident in girls, who were 30% more likely to binge eat if they had the variation.

Lead author Dr Nadia Micali, said: "This research offers an important first step towards understanding the genetic risk for binge eating and will help inform how we develop strategies to counter the obesity crisis."