Does short-term fasting promote pathological eating patterns?

Katherine Schaumberg, Drew A. Anderson, Erin E. Reilly, Lisa M. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Fasting, or going a significant amount of time without eating, has been identified as a risk factor for the development of pathological eating patterns. Findings from several studies examining the impact of fasting on subsequent eating behaviors have been mixed. The current study recruited college students to record food intake, episodes of binge eating, and use of compensatory behaviors before, throughout, and following a 24-hour fast. Participants attended an initial appointment in which they completed measures of dietary restraint and disinhibition and received instructions on self-monitoring and fasting. Participants (N = 122) self-monitored their eating behaviors for 96. h, including a 24-hour fasting period. Participants did not demonstrate significant increases in disordered eating behaviors following the fast (e.g., objective binge episodes, self-defined excessive eating or compensatory behavior use). Baseline disinhibition predicted excessive eating as well as objective binge episodes both before and after fasting. Altogether, findings have implications for research seeking to further understand how fasting may contribute to the development of pathological eating patterns; specifically, it seems that the ED risk associated with fasting is derived from the behavior's interaction with other individual difference variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-172
Number of pages5
JournalEating Behaviors
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Binge eating
  • Disinhibition
  • Eating disorders
  • Fasting


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