Dietary restraint is a prospective risk factor for the development of binge eating and bulimia nervosa. Although many women engage in dietary restraint, relatively few develop binge eating. Dietary restraint may increase susceptibility for binge eating only in individuals who are at genetic risk. Specifically, dietary restraint may be a behavioral exposure factor that activates genetic predispositions for binge eating. We investigated this possibility in 1,678 young adolescent and adult same-sex female twins from the Minnesota Twin Family Study and the Michigan State University Twin Registry. Twin moderation models were used to examine whether levels of dietary restraint moderate genetic and environmental influences on binge eating. Results indicated that genetic and nonshared environmental factors for binge eating increased at higher levels of dietary restraint. These effects were present after controlling for age, body mass index, and genetic and environmental overlap among dietary restraint and binge eating. Results suggest that dietary restraint may be most important for individuals at genetic risk for binge eating and that the combination of these factors could enhance individual differences in risk for binge eating.
- Binge eating
- Dietary restraint
- Gene × Environment interactions