A new study done by researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and at York University shows a link between overeating and binge eating with the oxytocin receptor gene. Oxytocin receptors, like the name implies, react to the powerful neurotransmitter oxytocin on a daily basis. For this study, the researchers focused on food intake and the brain-reward mechanisms and how the oxytocin receptor gene causes variation in eating habits. The study was conducted over the past decade with a large group of participants with a wide range of body weights and types as well as people with high risk eating habits. The researchers tested the hypothesis that single nucleotide polymorphisms were affected by the oxytocin receptor gene and found links that were directly related to overeating, and the impact oxytocin has on binge eating.
- 1Variants of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene may be linked to certain personality traits at high risk for overeating and binge eating.
- 2“For example, oxytocin enhances prosocial and related behaviors. On the other hand, increases in oxytocin tend to decrease appetite — especially the consumption of sweet carbohydrates.”
- 3“Another SNP was directly related to overeating. These results support the role of genes in giving rise to traits that regulate behavior, and highlight the importance of oxytocin in overeating.”
The DNA analysis revealed a new association between oxytocin and behaviors associated with binge eating.