Background. Previous research suggests that genetic influences on disordered eating may be greater in pubertal than pre-pubertal girls. Although these findings are consistent with pubertal activation of genetic influences on disordered eating, earlier studies were unable to directly test this hypothesis. The purpose of the present study therefore was to directly examine this possibility by investigating whether pubertal development moderates genetic influences on disordered eating.
Method. Participants were 510 female adolescent twins from the Minnesota Twin Family Study. Disordered eating was measured with the Total Score of the Minnesota Eating Behavior Survey, while pubertal status was assessed with the Pubertal Development Scale.
Results. Consistent with our hypothesis, model-fitting indicated significant increases in genetic influence on disordered eating with advancing pubertal development.
Conclusions. These findings suggest that puberty influences the expression of genes for disordered eating.
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