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Keywords:

  • food craving;
  • binge;
  • dietary restraint

Abstract

Objective

Food cravings are a frequently described antecedent to binge eating, yet not all of those who report food cravings also binge eat. The present study sought to determine the factors that distinguish cravers who binge versus those whose cravings are satisfied by a relatively “normal” amount of food. Method: A food craving questionnaire, a psychiatric diagnostic interview containing questions on binge eating, and a self-report booklet were completed by a group of cravers recruited by advertisement and a group of cravers from a randomly selected sample. Results: In both groups, the cravers who binged were differentiated from those who did not binge by higher measures of body mass index (BMI), more frequent diagnoses of bulimia nervosa, a higher level of dietary restraint, and a by a temperament characterized by low self-directedness. In the recruited cravers, those who binged were also more likely to have had an episode of major depression, social phobia, to be cognitively controlled and harm avoidant. A comparison of recruited cravers with randomly selected cravers and control women suggests that greater rates of psychopathology and eating-related disturbances and lower levels of parental care may be found in recruited samples. Discussion: In addition to elucidating factors associated with binge eating in cravers, this study highlights important differences between recruited and random samples. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 23:353–360, 1998.