An empirical test of the DSM-III-R definition of binge

Authors

  • Elise M. Rossiter Ph.D.,

    Clinical Instructor
    1. Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA
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  • W. Stewart Agras M.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. Professor of Psychiatry at the Laboratory for the Study of Behavioral Medicine
    • Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA
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Abstract

Caloric consumption during 343 binges was calculated from the 7-day, self-monitored food records of 32 subjects with bulimia nervosa. A second analysis was performed that examined only the first two binges recorded by each subject in order to control for the unequal number of binges among subjects. The results of these analyses were similar with subjects consuming, on average, 1200 kilocalories during episodes of binge eating with a standard deviation of approximately 1000 kilocalories. Twenty-eight percent of binges consisted of fewer than 500 kilocalories and another 28% consisted of 501 to 1000 kilocalories. The within-subject ranges of caloric intake during binge eating episodes averaged 1905 kilocalories with only three of 32 subjects having a range <850 kilocalories. These findings suggest that both among and within patients with bulimia nervosa there is much variability in the number of kilocalories consumed during episodes of binge eating with most subjects exhibiting both large and small binges. On the basis of these findings, we recommend that future additions of the DSM be modified to de-emphasize the importance of the size of eating binges.

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