Decision-making Impairments in Women with Binge Eating Disorder in Comparison with Obese and Normal Weight Women


Unna Danner, Altrecht Eating Disorders Rintveld, Altrecht Mental Health Institute, Oude Arnhemseweg 260, 3705 BK, Zeist, The Netherlands. Tel: +31-30-696-5477; Fax:+31-30-696-5305.




The purpose of the current study was to examine decision making in female patients with binge eating disorder (BED) in comparison with obese and normal weight women.


In the study, 20 patients with BED, 21 obese women without BED and 34 healthy women participated. Decision making was assessed using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Several questionnaires were administered measuring binge eating severity, sensitivity for punishment and reward, and self-control.


The findings indicated that the BED and obese group performed poorly on the IGT. Participants who have BED and are obese did not improve their choice behaviour over time, whereas participants with normal weight showed a learning effect. An association between IGT performance and binge eating severity was found.


This study demonstrates that patients with BED display decision-making deficits on the IGT comparable with other forms of disordered eating. Future research should focus on unravelling the processes underlying the deficits. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.