Friday, 31 May 2013

Males and females show differences in binge eating tendencies

A Michigan State University led study has revealed differences in how male and female rats are likely to binge eat.This study is the first of its kind to discern full sex differences in the rates of binge eating likelihood amongst animals.

This is, of course, exciting in its potential to help humans. The recorded chance of binge eating in female rats was discovered to be a huge four to ten times higher when compared to their male counterparts.

The difference between sexes if profound and intruiging. Kelly Klump, main author of the study states that “Most theories of why eating disorders are so much more prevalent in females than males focus on the increased cultural and psychological pressure that girls and women face,” “But this study suggests that biological factors likely contribute as well, since female rats do not experience the psychosocial pressures that humans do, such as pressures to be thin.”

This is a critical element of the study. Tell your standard individual that women are more likely to suffer from eating disorders and it is likely to be rationalized; women at greater pressure to conform to the standards of beauty, made to feel inadequate by constant bombarding with advertisements and magazines shouting the idea of the illusive perfect body. But of course, rats have none of these issues. The difference in likelihood to suffer from an eating disorder has been discovered in animals, not humans.

The study was conducted in the manner of a feeding experiment. A total of sixty rats divided evenly between male and female were used over a period of fourteen days. Slowly, the food was replaced with frosting. This gave the results of the female rats being up to six times more likely to binge eat when compared to the male group.

The difference may be down to the structure of the brain and how it differs between sexes. The researchers of the study are continuing their testing, attempting to discern if the female rat brain is wired to have a different level of sensitivity in regards to reward stimuli like high fat or sugar dense food.

If further specific results can be found in this area, it is hoped that it will lead to greater understanding of the differences between men and women with eating disorders, helping treat sufferers more specifically and accurately.

For more information on eating disorders and addiction, please visit the Life Works Community website.