This study compares 20 binge eaters (BED), 23 obese patients (OB) and 20 normal weight controls (CO) with regard to everyday emotions and the relationship between emotions, the desire to eat and binge eating. Modified versions of the Differential Affect Scale and Emotional Eating Scale were used and the TAS-20 and Symptom-Check-List-27 administered to assess overall psychopathology and alexithymia. BED-subjects show a more negative pattern of everyday emotions, higher alexithymia scores and the strongest desire to eat, especially if emotions are linked to interpersonal aspects. The emotion most often reported preceding a binge was anger. Feelings of loneliness, disgust, exhaustion or shame lead to binge eating behaviour with the highest probability. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.