Parental Divorce and Disordered Eating: An Investigation of a Gene-Environment Interaction

Volume 44, Issue 2

About the Course:

Objective: We investigated gene-environment interactions (GxE) for associations between parental divorce and disordered eating (DE).
Method: Participants were 1,810 female twins from the Michigan State University Twin Registry and the Minnesota Twin Family Study. The Minnesota Eating Behaviors Survey was used to assess DE. We tested for GxE by comparing the heritability of DE in twins from divorced versus intact families. It was hypothesized that divorce would moderate the heritability of DE, in that heritability would be higher in twins from divorced than twins from intact families.
Results: As expected, the heritability of body dissatisfaction was significantly higher in twins from divorced than intact families. However, genetic influences were equal in twins from divorced and intact families for all other forms of DE.
Discussion: Although divorce did not moderate heritability of most DE symptoms, future research should replicate GxEs for body dissatisfaction and identify factors underlying this unique relationship.

Journal/Publisher:

Wiley Interscience Journal, International Joural of Eating Disorders

Publication Date:

March 2011

Authors

Jessica Lynn Suisman, M.A.; S. Alexandra Burt, Ph.D; Matt McGue, Ph.D; William G. Iacono, Ph.D; Kelly L. Klump, Ph.D

About the Authors:

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for psychologists, social workers, counselors, and other health care professionals who seek knowledge about gene environment interactions for disordered eating symptoms.

Course Objectives:

  1. Describe the mean-level association between divorce and disordered eating symptoms.

  2. Outline available evidence for why divorce may be an important environmental variable to examine in gene-environment interaction research.

  3. Identify symptoms of disordered eating that appear to have increased heritability in the presence of parental divorce, as well as which symptoms do not.

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