Which factors do provoke binge eating? An exploratory study in eating disorder patients

Eat Weight Disord. 2004 Dec;9(4):300-5. doi: 10.1007/BF03325086.


Objective: To study the different factors (external, emotional, cognitive, and physiological) which may trigger binge eating in eating disorder patients and to make a comparison of binge eating triggers in different eating disorder samples, i.e. anorexia nervosa bingeing-purging type and bulimia nervosa (BN).

Method: A total of 242 eating disorder patients filled out the Binge Eating Trigger Checklist (BETCH), a new screening device to evaluate the type of situations (and their experienced discomfort) which subjects identify as antecedents of a binge eating episode.

Results: Eating disorder patients report a combination of negative emotions, physiological states (urge for sweets) and negative cognitions as most important antecedents for their bingeing episodes. External stimuli were only reported by a small number of patients and provoked significantly lower levels of discomfort. A comparison of binge eating triggers in bingeing anorexia nervosa patients and bulimic patients showed only a few significant differences.

Conclusions: Binge eating, as perceived and reported by eating disorder patients, seems to be provoked by a combination of different antecedents, both emotional, cognitive and physiological. Remarkably enough, binge eating triggers did not differ between bingeing anorectic patients and patients suffering from BN.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Bulimia / physiopathology*
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Cognition
  • Cues
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Precipitating Factors
  • Psychophysiology
  • Spain