Examining duration of binge eating episodes in binge eating disorder


  • Supported by DK61912 and DK61973 from NIDDK

  • Supported by K02 MH65919 from NIMH

  • Supported by NIDDK P30 DK50456 from Pilot and Feasibility Grant from the Minnesota Obesity Center (MNOC).



The primary goal of this article is to examine and clarify characteristics of binge eating in individuals with binge eating disorder (BED), particularly the duration of binge eating episodes, as well as potential differences between individuals with shorter compared to longer binge eating episodes.


Two studies exploring binge eating characteristics in BED were conducted. Study 1 examined differences in clinical variables among individuals (N = 139) with BED who reported a short (<2 h) versus long (≥2 h) average binge duration. Study 2 utilized an ecological momentary assessment design to examine the duration and temporal pattern of binge eating episodes in the natural environment in a separate sample of nine women with BED.


Participants in Study 1 who were classified as having long duration binge eating episodes displayed greater symptoms of depression and lower self-esteem, but did not differ on other measures of eating disorder symptoms, compared to those with short duration binge eating episodes. In Study 2, the average binge episode duration was approximately 42 min, and binge eating episodes were most common during the early afternoon and evening hours, as well as more common on weekdays versus weekends.


Past research on binge episode characteristics, particularly duration, has been limited to studies of binge eating episodes in bulimia nervosa. This study contributes to the existing literature on characteristics of binge eating in BED. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2013; 46:810–814)