Clinical characteristics associated with binge eating in obese females: A descriptive study

M. P. Mussell, J. E. Mitchell, M. De Zwaan, R. D. Crosby, H. C. Seim, Scott J Crow

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OBJECTIVE: To investigate differences in clinical characteristics of obese female participants based on presence and degree of binge eating behavior. DESIGN: Descriptive comparison of various clinical characteristics of obese women diagnosed with binge eating disorder (BED) assessed by semi-structured interview to those for similar weight participants reporting subthreshold BED and those who do not binge eat. SUBJECTS: 185 healthy women seeking obesity treatment (age: 20-55 y, BMI: 28.4-51.5 kg/m2), MEASUREMENTS: Baseline self-report questionnaires included the Weight and Eating Patterns (QEWP), Eating Disorders Questionnaire (EDQ), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI); clinical interviews included the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-111-R-Patient Version (SCID-P). RESULTS: In comparison to other obese women, obese participants meeting full BED criteria report an earlier onset of binge eating, increased food cravings, increased diet pill use, decreased fasting, greater fear of gaining weight, increased body perception disturbance, and increased depressive symptomatology and general psychopathology. CONCLUSIONS: Obese women with BED report greater eating-related and general psychopathology than non-binge eating disordered women of comparable weight. Although endorsement of food cravings unrelated to hunger was associated with binge eating diagnosis, the role of dietary restriction among this population remains unclear and requires further investigation. Theoretical and clinical implications that binge eating episodes for individuals with BED may be related to negative affect states and increased dietary disinhibition are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-331
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996


  • Binge eating
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Obesity
  • Psychopathology


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