Impulsivity and test meal intake in obese binge eating women

Appetite. 2004 Dec;43(3):303-7. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2004.04.006.


Greater impulsivity has been observed in those with chemical (cocaine, marijuana, alcohol) and behavioral addictions (gambling, sex, shopping), as well as in individuals with personality and conduct disorders. Greater impulsivity has also been described in those with Bulimia Nervosa and attributed to aberrations in serotonin, as has eating in response to negative affect. However, less is known about the impact of impulsivity on eating behavior in obese humans in general, and in those who meet sub-clinical and full clinical criteria for Binge Eating Disorder (BED) in particular. Using a laboratory test meal paradigm, we demonstrated: (1) greater Motor Impulsivity (Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS) (p = 0.05) in those with BED (n = 11) as compared to those without BED (n = 11) (2) a positive correlation between BED criteria and BIS scores (p < 0.01) (3) a positive correlation between test meal duration and Zung Depression Score, and (4) a positive correlation between Motor Impulsivity and mood rated before consuming the test meal. These associations suggest potential aberrations in serotonin transmission in BED, and a possible target for pharmacotherapy of BED especially in those who are resistant to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Eating / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • Serotonin