Differences in risk factors for binge eating by socioeconomic status in a community-based sample of adolescents: Findings from Project EAT

Caroline E. West, Andrea B. Goldschmidt, Susan M. Mason, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Binge eating is prevalent across socioeconomic status (SES) groups, but it is unclear whether risk factors for binge eating vary by SES. This study examined the prevalence of several risk factors for binge eating by SES and SES as a potential moderator of these risk factors. Method: Participants included 2,179 individuals involved in Project EAT during early/middle adolescence (EAT-I) and 5 years later during late adolescence/emerging adulthood (EAT-II). Risk ratios were computed using modified Poisson regression of incident EAT-II binge eating on EAT-I risk factors among participants of high and low SES. Interactions between each risk factor and SES were tested. Results: Among higher SES adolescents, overweight/obesity (RR = 3.2; 95% CI: 1.8, 5.7), body dissatisfaction (RR = 2.6; 95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.2, 5.5), dieting (RR = 4.0; 95% CI: 2.0, 8.2), and family weight-teasing (RR = 2.3; 95% CI: 1.3, 4.3) predicted increased risk for binge eating. Among adolescents from low-SES backgrounds, overweight/obesity (RR = 1.5; 95% CI: 0.9, 2.5), dieting (RR = 2.2; 95% CI: 1.2, 3.9), and food insecurity (RR = 1.4; 95% CI: 0.7, 2.7) predicted increased risk for binge eating. Moderator analyses revealed that overweight/obesity, body dissatisfaction, dieting, and family weight-teasing were stronger risk factors in the high-SES group than the low-SES group; interactions with food insecurity could not be examined given the low prevalence of food insecurity in the high-SES group. Discussion: Risk factors for binge eating may vary by SES, suggesting the potential utility of modifying intervention and prevention methods based on SES. In particular, the role of food insecurity must be addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-668
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019



  • adolescent
  • child
  • eating/psychology
  • obesity/psychology
  • risk factors
  • socioeconomic factors

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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