Current Psychiatry Reports

, 15:408

Novel “Thrifty” Models of Increased Eating Behaviour

Eating Disorders (AS Kaplan, Section Editor)

DOI: 10.1007/s11920-013-0408-x

Cite this article as:
Levitan, R.D. & Wendland, B. Curr Psychiatry Rep (2013) 15: 408. doi:10.1007/s11920-013-0408-x
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Eating Disorders


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.


Thrifty genotype hypothesis Thrifty phenotype hypothesis Seasonality Psychosocial adversity Eating disorders Psychiatry 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthCampbell Family Mental Health Research InstituteTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Department of PhysiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Institute of Medical SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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