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Gene Linked to Binge Eating

Flawed Appetite Suppression Gene Found in Obese Binge Eaters

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"Obesity is a complex disease that is likely to have multiple genetic and environmental influences," says Habener, who wrote an editorial published along with the study. "Environmental factors appear to be driving an epidemic of obesity. We live in an increasingly sedentary society and have ready access to inexpensive calories." Habener is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and is director of the laboratory of molecular endocrinology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Both researchers say the search for the genetic cause of obesity should lead to better drugs to treat the problem. In his editorial, Habener wrote that drugs already under development may prove effective for the treatment of binge-eating disorder in overweight patients.

"Right now there are really no effective drugs to treat morbid obesity," Habener tells WebMD. "But I think within the next decade we will see better treatments based on genetic research."

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