Personality and eating behaviors: a case-control study of binge eating disorder

Int J Eat Disord. 2008 Apr;41(3):243-50. doi: 10.1002/eat.20499.


Objective: Questions have been raised about the validity of binge eating disorder (BED) as psycho-pathologically distinct from other forms of overeating. Our purpose was to ascertain whether BED individuals differed in important ways from nonbinging obese adults.

Method: BED adults were recruited from the community as were weight-matched (obese) and normal-weight control (NWC) groups. All groups were equivalent for age and gender distribution, and were assessed on several personality traits and eating behaviors.

Results: BED individuals and obese controls did not differ on the personality traits. Both were more reward sensitive, and had greater anxiousness, impulsivity, and addictive personality traits than NWC. However, BED individuals reported significantly greater hedonic eating compared with the obese, who had higher levels than NWC.

Conclusion: Our findings provided no evidence of a psychological identity unique to obese adults with BED although their eating behaviors are markedly hedonically driven-i.e., more responsive to factors external to physiological needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive / epidemiology
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Bulimia / diagnosis
  • Bulimia / epidemiology*
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / diagnosis
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / epidemiology
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / psychology
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis
  • Personality Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Personality Disorders / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Punishment
  • Reward
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires