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Keywords:

  • alexithymia;
  • binge eating disorder;
  • emotional eating;
  • depression

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the relationships between alexithymia and emotional eating in obese women with or without Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

Research Methods and Procedures: One hundred sixty-nine obese women completed self-report questionnaires, including the Beck Depression Inventory, the State Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Stress Perceived Scale, the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire, and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale. The presence of BED, screened using the Questionnaire of Eating and Weight Patterns, was confirmed by interview.

Results: Forty obese women were identified as having BED. BED subjects and non-BED subjects were comparable in age, body mass index, educational level, and socioeconomic class. According to the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire, BED subjects exhibited higher depression, anxiety, perceived stress, alexithymia scores, and emotional and external eating scores than non-BED subjects. Emotional eating and perceived stress emerged as significant predictors of BED. The relationships between alexithymia and emotional eating in obese subjects differed between the two groups according to the presence of BED. Alexithymia was the predictor of emotional eating in BED subjects, whereas perceived stress and depression were the predictors in non-BED subjects.

Discussion: This study pointed out different relationships among mood, alexithymia, and emotional eating in obese subjects with or without BED. Alexithymia was linked to emotional eating in BED. These data suggest the involvement of alexithymia in eating disorders among obese women.