Both insufficiency and resistance to the actions of the adipocyte-derived hormone leptin promote hunger, increased food intake and greater body weight. Some studies suggest that adults reporting binge eating have increased serum leptin compared with those without binge eating, even after adjusting for the greater adiposity that characterizes binge eaters. Pediatric binge or loss of control (LOC) eating are prospective risk factors for excessive weight gain and may predict development of metabolic abnormalities, but whether LOC eating is associated with higher leptin among children is unknown. We therefore examined leptin and LOC eating in a pediatric cohort.
A convenience sample of 506 lean and obese youth (7–18 years) was recruited from Washington, DC and its suburbs. Serum leptin was collected after an overnight fast. Adiposity was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry or air displacement plethysmography. LOC eating was assessed by interview methodology.
Leptin was strongly associated with fat mass (r=0.79, P<0.001). However, even after adjusting for adiposity and other relevant covariates, youth with LOC eating had higher serum leptin compared with those without LOC episodes (15.42±1.05 vs 12.36±1.04 ng ml−1, P<0.001). Neither reported amount of food consumed during a recent LOC episode nor number of LOC episodes in the previous month accounted for differences in leptin (P>0.05). The relationship between LOC eating and leptin appeared to be significant for females only (P=0.002).
Reports of LOC eating were associated with higher fasting leptin in youth, beyond the contributions of body weight. Prospective studies are required to elucidate whether LOC eating promotes greater leptin or whether greater leptin resistance may promote LOC eating.
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This research was supported by National Research Service Award 1F32HD056762 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (to LBS), Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences grant R072IC (to MTK), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) grant 5R01DK080906-04 (to MTK) and Intramural Research Program Grant 1ZIAHD000641 from the NICHD, with supplemental funding from the Division of Nutrition Research Coordination, the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (to JAY). JAY is a Commissioned Officer in the US Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services. The funding organizations played no role in the design and conduct of the study; the collection, management, analysis and interpretation of data; or the preparation or review of the manuscript. Drs Yanovski and Tanofsky-Kraff take full responsibility for the work as a whole, including the study design, access to data and the decision to submit and publish the manuscript.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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Miller, R., Tanofsky-Kraff, M., Shomaker, L. et al. Serum leptin and loss of control eating in children and adolescents. Int J Obes 38, 397–403 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2013.126
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