Psychological and physiological correlates of binge eating disorder
Schaffer, Nicole A.
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This study investigates pathways to binge eating behavior in a group of 384 obese Patients seeking out-patient weight loss treatment. Three hundred ten non-binge eaters are contrasted with 74 obese subjects with binge eating disorder. Two different pathways are hypothesized and tested---a psychological path and a physiological path. The hypothesized psychological path to binge eating disorder proposes that the role of psychological well-being is mediated by: (1) self-efficacy for improved eating and exercise behaviors; (2) beliefs in the helpfulness of cognitive and behavioral coping; and (3) the use of cognitive and behavioral coping strategies.;The second path proposes that serum insulin would affect binge eating disorder through its effects on body mass index, percent body fat, and waist-to-hip ratio.;Although lower psychological well-being is associated with binge eating disorder (R2 = .04, pr = --.16), none of the three psychological mediators tested (self-efficacy, belief in the helpfulness of positive coping, or use of positive coping) are significantly associated with binge eating disorder. Conversely, the physiological pathway is largely supported. Body mass index and percent body fat (R2 = .07, pr = .28) mediate insulin's effect on binge eating disorder.;Results support the position taken by recent literature that Binge Eating Disorder is a valid diagnostic subcategory within the obese population, and that this group is characterized by more severe psychological distress. This study contributes data on the existence of physiological differences between binge eaters and non-binge eaters. Study limitations, and implications for further research and clinical practice are discussed.