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Keywords:

  • binge eating;
  • obesity;
  • child;
  • race;
  • psychopathology

Abstract

Objective

To investigate the relationship between loss of control over eating, adiposity, and psychological distress in a nontreatment sample of overweight children.

Method

Based on self-reports of eating episodes, 112 overweight children, 6–10 years old, were categorized using the Questionnaire of Eating and Weight Patterns–Adolescent Version into those describing episodes of loss of control over eating (LC), and those with no loss of control (NoLC). Groups were compared on measures of adiposity, dieting, and eating behavior, and associated psychological distress.

Results

LC children (33.1%) were heavier and had greater amounts of body fat than NoLC children. They also had higher anxiety, more depressive symptoms, and more body dissatisfaction. 5.3% met questionnaire criteria for BED. Episodes of loss of control occurred infrequently, were often contextual, and involved usual meal foods.

Discussion

As in adults, overweight children reporting loss of control over eating have greater severity of obesity and more psychological distress than those with no such symptoms. It remains unknown whether children who endorse loss of control over eating before adolescence will be those who develop the greatest difficulties with binge eating or obesity in adulthood. © 2002 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 31: 430–441, 2002.