Cognitive function in morbidly obese individuals with and without binge eating disorder

Compr Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;53(5):490-5. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2011.09.002. Epub 2011 Oct 28.


Objective: Obesity is associated with poorer cognitive function and impulsivity, which may contribute to binge eating disorder (BED). The objective of this study was to compare cognitive function in morbidly obese individuals with and without BED.

Method: A total of 131 morbidly obese individuals (41 with past or present BED, 90 with no BED history) completed a computerized battery of cognitive tests including executive, memory, language, and attention.

Results: Both groups of participants evidenced high rates of cognitive impairment; however, no significant differences emerged between persons with and without BED on cognitive testing. Comparison of persons without BED, current BED, and past BED also yielded no differences.

Discussion: In the present sample, morbidly obese individuals with and without BED were clinically indistinguishable on tests of cognitive function. Our findings suggest that obesity, rather than binge eating, may be more directly related to cognition. Future studies should further examine this relationship because it might provide greater insight into the neural mechanisms for this BED.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attention
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Language
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Obesity, Morbid / epidemiology*
  • Obesity, Morbid / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology