• binge-eating disorder;
  • loss of control eating;
  • depression;
  • childhood;
  • adolescence



Emerging prospective evidence from mixed samples, mostly covering short-term follow-up periods, suggests that childhood loss of control (LOC) eating predicts significant impairment in mental and physical health. This study sought to investigate the natural course of childhood LOC eating over the long term and in relation to binge-eating disorder (BED) diagnosis, psychopathology, and body weight trajectory in the community.


A total of 60 children (8–13 years) with LOC eating within the past 3 months and 60 demographically matched children without LOC history were assessed with the Eating Disorder Examination adapted for Children and self-report questionnaires over a 5.5 year follow-up period. Missing data were imputed.


Over follow-up, 38.3% of children showed persistent LOC eating, and 28.3% revealed an onset of LOC eating. Persistent LOC eating significantly predicted onset of partial-/full-syndrome BED at follow-up. Negative prognostic effects on eating disorder psychopathology, depressive symptoms, and body mass index were nonsignificant.


The results indicate a moderate stability of LOC eating over the long term. LOC eating, especially if stable, was suggested as a variable risk factor of clinically relevant eating disturbances. In contrast, a prognostic value for psychopathology and body mass index was not confirmed. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:758–761)