Objective: For binge eating disorder (BED) to be accepted as a distinct diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, it must be demonstrated that the criteria identify a diagnostic entity that is distinct from bulimia nervosa and obesity. This study examined the difference in total energy intake per day, patterns of energy intake throughout the day, and nutrient content of foods consumed in obese individuals who met the criteria for BED (on binge and non-binge days) and those who did not.
Research methods and procedures: Twenty women, 12 who met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria for BED and 8 matched obese controls, participated in the study. All participants underwent six random 24-hour dietary recall telephone interviews conducted by experienced interviewers using the Nutrition Data Software System.
Results: The BED group ingested significantly more kilocalories on days when they had binge eating episodes than the obese control group on average. The BED group ate significantly more in the evening on binge days than their control group counterparts. There is some indication in the data that those with BED may be restricting caloric intake. Finally, data indicated that the BED group ate significantly more protein, carbohydrate, and fat on binge days than on non-binge days. However, the proportion of kilocalories from each nutrient shifted on BED binge days compared with non-binge days to favor consumption of fat over carbohydrates.
Discussion: More research needs to be done to determine if these findings are reproducible. Then, the neurobiological underpinnings of these differences in nutrient intake patterns and nutrient selection can be studied to help to determine the biological basis of the disorder.