Get access

Subjective and objective binge eating in relation to eating disorder symptomatology, negative affect, and personality dimensions


  • Supported by NIH 1 R01-MH/DK58820; NIH 1 R01-DK61973; NIH 1 R01-MH59100; NIH 1 R01-MH66287; NIH P30-DK50456; K02 MH65919; R01 MH 59234 from John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and by University of Missouri Research Council; Walden W. and Jean Young Shaw Foundation.



The current study explored the clinical meaningfulness of distinguishing subjective (SBE) from objective binge eating (OBE) among individuals with threshold/subthreshold bulimia nervosa (BN). We examined relations between OBEs and SBEs and eating disorder symptoms, negative affect, and personality dimensions using both a group comparison and a continuous approach.


Participants were 204 adult females meeting criteria for threshold/subthreshold BN who completed questionnaires related to disordered eating, affect, and personality.


Group comparisons indicated that SBE and OBE groups did not significantly differ on eating disorder pathology or negative affect, but did differ on two personality dimensions (cognitive distortion and attentional impulsivity). Using the continuous approach, we found that frequencies of SBEs (not OBEs) accounted for unique variance in weight/shape concern, diuretic use frequency, depressive symptoms, anxiety, social avoidance, insecure attachment, and cognitive distortion.


SBEs in the context of BN may indicate broader areas of psychopathology. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2013)