Binge Size Increases with Body Mass Index in Women with Binge-Eating Disorder


Obesity Research Center, St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital Center, Babcock Building, Room 1018, 1111 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025. E-mail:


Objective: To determine whether meal size is related to body mass index (BMI) in obese subjects with binge-eating disorder (BED).

Research Methods and Procedures: Five groups of subjects each consumed two laboratory-test meals on nonconsecutive days. Forty-two women, categorized by BMI and BED diagnosis, were instructed to “binge” during one meal and to eat “normally” during another. Eighteen women had BMI values >38 kg/m2 (more-obese) and 17 had BMI values between 28 to 32 kg/m2 (less-obese). Twelve of the more-obese and nine of the less-obese individuals met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)-IV criteria for BED. Seven normal-weight women also participated as controls.

Results: Subjects with BED ate significantly more in both meals than subjects without BED. Binge meals were significantly larger than normal meals only among subjects with BED. The more-obese subjects with BED ate significantly more than the less-obese subjects with BED, but only when they were asked to binge. Intake of the binge meal was significantly, positively correlated with BMI among subjects with BED. Subjects with BED reported significantly higher satiety ratings after the binge than after the normal meal, but subjects without BED reported similar ratings after both meals. Regardless of instructions and diagnosis, obese subjects consumed a significantly higher percentage of energy from fat (38.5%) than did normal-weight subjects (30.8%).

Discussion: During binge meals, the energy intake of subjects with BED is greater than that of individuals of similar body weight without BED and is positively correlated with BMI.