Novel “Thrifty” Models of Increased Eating Behaviour
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- Levitan, R.D. & Wendland, B. Curr Psychiatry Rep (2013) 15: 408. doi:10.1007/s11920-013-0408-x
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The thrifty genotype and phenotype hypotheses were developed to explain the rapid increase in diabetes and obesity in developed countries around the world. Most subsequent “thrifty” research has focused on the early developmental origins of the metabolic syndrome and cardio-metabolic disease. The goal of this manuscript is to review an emerging line of research that uses a similar thrifty framework to understand the early developmental origins of eating–related phenotypes that have primary relevance to many psychiatric disorders. Given the important role of environmental adversity in various psychiatric disorders that involve overeating, and their early age of onset, it is likely that several thrifty mechanisms are relevant in this regard. Understanding the early origins of increased eating behaviour based on a thrifty model might point the way to highly targeted preventative interventions during critical periods of development, and provide a new way of addressing these common and difficult to treat disorders.