Body image disturbance in binge eating disorder: a review

Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2011 Sep-Oct;19(5):375-81. doi: 10.1002/erv.1100. Epub 2011 Feb 22.


Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by frequent binge eating without compensatory behaviour and is thus often associated with obesity. Whereas for the eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, one of the main diagnostic features is a negative body image, the research criteria for BED do not include body image disturbance. Although several studies have been conducted on the occurrence of body image disturbance in BED, no review has yet summarized and integrated these findings. Therefore, the present paper reviews studies on the cognitive-affective, perceptual and behavioural components of body image. Many of the reviewed studies reveal that individuals with BED display a higher degree of weight and shape concerns than obese persons without BED. Concerning the perceptual component, no evidence exists to date that persons with and without BED differ in terms of the perception of their own body size. While many studies have examined the cognitive-affective body image component, research on the behavioural manifestations of body image disturbance is generally lacking. However, there is first evidence that persons with BED display an enhanced degree of body checking and avoidance. The results of this review indicate that body image disturbance seems to be a symptom of BED but which still requires further exploration.

Keywords: binge eating disorder; body image; body image disturbance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Binge-Eating Disorder / psychology*
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Humans