Because etiologic and maintenance models of binge eating center around dieting and affect regulation, this study tested whether binge eating-disordered (BED) individuals could be subtyped along dieting and negative affect dimensions and whether subtypes differed in eating pathology, social functioning, psychiatric comorbidity, and response to treatment.
Three independent samples of interviewer-diagnosed BED women (N = 218) were subtyped along dieting and negative affect dimensions using cluster analysis and compared on the outcomes of interest.
Cluster analyses replicated across the three independent samples and revealed a dietary subtype (63%) and a dietary-depressive subtype (37%). The latter subtype reported greater eating and weight obsessions, social maladjustment, higher lifetime rates of mood, anxiety, and personality disorders, and poorer response to treatment than did the dietary subtype.
Results suggest that moderate dieting is a central feature of BED and that affective disturbances occur in only a subset of cases. However, the confluence of dieting and negative affect signals a more severe variant of the disorder marked by elevated psychopathology, impaired social functioning, and a poorer treatment response. © 2001 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 30: 11–27, 2001.