Objective: To explore the extent to which binge eating in the absence of compensatory behaviors (BE) is associated with psychiatric and medical symptoms in men and women and to control for the independent effects of BMI.
Research Methods and Procedures: A series of regression models was applied to questionnaire data on 8045 twins, 18 to 31 years old, from a population-based Norwegian registry.
Results: BE was significantly associated with elevated obesity, overweight, symptoms of eating disorders, symptoms of anxiety and depression, panic attacks, depressive episodes, and reduced life satisfaction in both men and women. In women, BE was independently associated with insomnia and early menarche. In men, BE was independently associated with specific phobia, daily smoking, alcohol use, use of pain medication, impairment due to mental health, neck-shoulder, lower back, and chronic muscular pain, and impairment due to physical health. Both men and women with BE reported higher rates of psychiatric treatment.
Discussion: Our results indicate that there is substantial comorbidity between BE and psychiatric symptoms independently of BMI for both men and women. Medical symptoms co-occur less frequently than previously reported from treatment-seeking populations in women. Across all domains, the array of symptoms exhibited by men with BE was broader than that observed in women with BE. This observation suggests the importance of considering gender differences in future studies of psychiatric and medical morbidity, binge eating, and obesity.