Binge eating involves an abnormal motivation for highly palatable food in that these foods are repeatedly consumed despite their binge-triggering effects and life-affecting consequences associated with binge eating. We determined if rats identified as binge-eating prone (BEP) similarly display abnormal motivation for palatable food.
Food-sated BEP and binge-eating resistant (BER) rats were given voluntary access to palatable food paired with increasing intensity of footshock. Later, they were exposed to a period of cyclic caloric restriction–refeeding.
BEPs consumed significantly more and tolerated higher levels of footshock for palatable food than BERs. Cyclic restriction–refeeding increased BERs' tolerance of shock for palatable food.
Previously observed parallels of the rat BEP model to human binge eating can now be extended to include an abnormal motivation for palatable food. This model should prove useful in identifying specific genes that interact with the nutritional environment to mediate binge eating and may point to novel physiological targets to treat compulsive overeating. © 2010 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2011; 44:203–211)