Binge eating disorder in females: a population-based investigation

Int J Eat Disord. 1999 Apr;25(3):287-92. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1098-108x(199904)25:3<287::aid-eat6>;2-8.


Objective: The authors investigated the prevalence of binge eating behavior in a general female Austrian population.

Method: A random sample of 1,000 women (age range 15a to 85a) was interviewed by dieticians over the phone. Some screening instruments were used to detect binge eating behavior.

Results: Of the entire sample, 122 met the diagnostic criteria for binge eating, 84 for binge eating syndrome, and 33 for binge eating disorder (BED). The point prevalence of bulimia nervosa was 1.5%. Women with binge eating episodes carried out more frequently one or more diets within the previous year, and more frequently exhibited a restrained eating behavior than did women without binge eating behavior. Underweight women more often met the diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa nonpurging type than did normal weight, overweight, and obese women, while overweight and obese women more frequently met the diagnostic criteria for BED.

Discussion: Our findings indicate that binge eating appears to be a fairly common behavior in women. Dieting, chronic restrained eating, and excessive exercise may be important triggers for BED and bulimia nervosa.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Body Weight
  • Bulimia / epidemiology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence