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Keywords:

  • binge eating;
  • duration;
  • binge eating disorder;
  • binge characteristics;
  • ecological momentary assessment

ABSTRACT

Objective

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.

Method

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.

Results

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.

Discussion

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)