European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 28, Issue 11, pp 1447–1460 | Cite as

The interplay between self-regulation and affectivity in binge eating among adolescents

  • Eva Van MalderenEmail author
  • Lien Goossens
  • Sandra Verbeken
  • Elisa Boelens
  • Eva Kemps
Original Contribution


Binge eating among adolescents is associated with negative developmental outcomes. From a cognitive perspective, the role of impaired self-regulation is increasingly emphasized as an underlying factor in binge eating, whereas the affect regulation model proposes that affectivity is a key factor in explaining binge eating. Studies combining both perspectives are scarce, but necessary to add to the understanding of this pathological eating behavior. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to investigate unique and joint contributions of both factors in understanding binge eating among adolescents. Participants were 301 adolescents (10–17 years; 67.2% girls; Mage = 13.46 years; SD = 1.99) from the general community. Adolescents self-reported on different types of binge eating episodes (loss of control over eating in general, objective and subjective binge eating in particular), self-regulation (general self-regulation and inhibitory control) and affectivity (positive and negative). The parents were questioned about their children’s self-regulatory capacities. Results revealed main effects of self-regulatory capacities (adolescent report) and negative affectivity in predicting objective binge eating. In addition, negative affectivity interacted with self-regulation (parent report) to predict objective binge eating, whereas positive affectivity interacted with self-regulation (adolescent report) to predict subjective binge eating. No significant effects were found for loss of control over eating specifically. Both self-regulation and affectivity each make unique as well as joint contributions to binge eating among adolescents, with results differing across types of binge eating episodes and informants. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


Adolescents Binge eating Self-regulation Affectivity 


Author contributions

LG, EK and EVM designed the study and wrote the protocol. EVM and EB were responsible for the data collection, under supervision of LG. EVM conducted the statistical analyses and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All other authors edited subsequent drafts of the manuscript, and have approved the final manuscript.


The research was supported by the Special Research Fund of Ghent University. The funding body had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, writing of the manuscript, or decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental, Personality and Social PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.School of PsychologyFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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