Leptin Levels Tied to Binge Eating in Children

August 20, 2013

By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Aug 20 - Binge eating in kids is associated with higher serum leptin levels, especially in girls, a new study shows.

"The main point of this paper is to highlight a physiological difference we found in children with loss of control over their eating, compared to children without loss of control," Dr. Jack A. Yanovski told Reuters Health by email. "We and others have previously found that children with loss of control over eating are at particularly high risk for adult obesity and its complications."

"High serum leptin suggests that leptin resistance could potentially contribute to the risk for weight gain," he added. "However, it is important to bear in mind that cross-sectional data of the sort we reported can't tease out cause and effect relationships - we don't know if the apparent leptin resistance is a result of, or one of the predisposing factors for, loss of control over eating."

As reported July 30 online in the International Journal of Obesity, Dr. Yanovski of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda and colleagues studied 338 girls and 168 boys ages seven to 18.

Serum leptin was collected after an overnight fast. Adiposity was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry or air displacement plethysmography, and eating habits were assessed by trained interviewers.

In all, 195 children (39%) reported at least one "loss of control" (LOC) eating episode in the previous month.

Leptin was strongly associated with fat mass, the authors report. Even after adjusting for adiposity, sex, pubertal status and other factors, those with LOC episodes had significantly higher serum leptin than those without such episodes (15.4 vs 12.4 ng/mL).

The reported amount of food consumed during a recent LOC episode did not account for the difference in leptin, nor did the number of LOC episodes in the previous month.

However, females displayed significantly higher fasting leptin than males (16.6 vs 9.8 ng/mL). In addition, say the investigators "the relationship between LOC eating and leptin appeared to be significant for females only."

This difference, Dr. Yanovski pointed out, "may have been due to the smaller sample size for boys with loss of control, (or) it may also point to sexual dimorphisms in the causes of loss of control eating."

Our hope, he concluded, "is that ultimately a better understanding of these biological differences may lead us to more targeted prevention and treatment strategies for pediatric obesity."

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/18I03Ul

Int J Obes 2013.

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