Attachment representations and alexithymia in community adolescents with binge-eating attitudes

Eat Weight Disord. 2021 Mar;26(2):689-693. doi: 10.1007/s40519-020-00897-5. Epub 2020 Apr 10.

Abstract

Purpose: The aims of the current study were: (a) to compare community adolescent groups with and without binge eating (BE) on attachment representations and alexithymia, using an age-adapted interview to assess attachment; and (b) to explore the independent role of attachment and alexithymia as potentially related to BE in community adolescents.

Methods: Three hundred eighty-two community adolescents were screened with respect to BE symptoms through the Binge Eating Scale (BES). The 22 girls identified with BE (BE group) and 22 age- and gender-matched peers without BE (NBE group) were assessed with the Friends and Family Interview (FFI) and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20).

Results: Binge eating group reported greater attachment preoccupation in comparison to NBE, while no difference emerged in alexithymia. More insecure attachment patterns, both preoccupied and dismissing, were significantly and independently associated with BES score in community girls.

Conclusions: Insecure attachment, assessed with semi-structured interview, is associated with BE among adolescents' community girls, while apparently alexithymia is not. Future prospective studies should assess the role of attachment in the development of BE in adolescents.

Level of evidence: III, case-control analytic study.

Keywords: Adolescence; Alexithymia; Attachment; Binge eating; Community.