Does binge eating play a role in the self-regulation of moods?
- Cite this article as:
- Lynch, W.C., Everingham, A., Dubitzky, J. et al. Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science (2000) 35: 298. doi:10.1007/BF02688792
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Self-reported emotional experiences and eating behaviors were studied in college students in an attempt to determine what types of emotional experiences precede and follow binge eating and how specific types of compensatory behaviors modify these experiences. First-year male and female students (N=390) were surveyed for depression, anxiety, health status, life satisfaction, and eating attitudes (EAT-26). Those reporting recurrent binge eating episodes were asked to describe their emotional feelings before and after bingeing and before and after compensatory activities. EAT-26 scores corresponding to scores previously reported for eating disordered patients were found in 9.7% of students. Binge eating was nearly twice as frequent among females (16.4%) as males (8.6%) Among females, positive relationships were found between specific EAT-26 factors scores and both anxiety and depression scores. The emotional antecedents and consequences of binge eating and of compensatory activities were compared in three sub-groups of individuals who reported recurrent bingeing with loss of self-control during binges. The three sub-groups consisted of individuals who reported, 1) bingeing without engaging in compensatory activities, 2) bingeing and compensating by means other than vomiting (fasting, exercising, or use of laxatives or diuretics), and 3) bingeing and compensating by vomiting. Regardless of the type of activity, those individuals who engaged in compensatory activities reported greater negative affect preceding binge episodes than those who did not compensate. In addition, contrary to expectations, negative affect did not decrease, but instead increased significantly, following binge episodes and decreased immediately before and after compensatory activities.