Introduction. Binge eating disorder (BED) is highly prevalent among individuals seeking treatment for obesity. No controlled studies assessing the sexual functioning of these patients have been published so far.
Aim. To investigate the sexual functioning of a clinical sample of obese women affected by BED, comparing them with obese non-BED patients (Ob), and with normal weight controls.
Methods. A consecutive series of 107 obese BED and 110 obese non-BED patients referring for the first time to the Clinic for Obesity of the University of Florence, together with a control group of 92 normal weight subjects, were studied.
Main Outcome Measures. Patients were studied by means of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV and the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). Moreover, several self-reported questionnaires assessing the eating specific and general psychopathology were used.
Results. BED and obese non-BED probands reported a lower sexual activity compared to controls, in terms of absence of sexual intercourse rate, and sexual intercourse frequency. BED patients showed lower FSFI total and subscales scores compared to Ob, and Ob probands reported lower scores compared to controls. According to the multiple linear regression analysis, emotional eating was the main determinant of FSFI scores (FSFI total score, desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction) for both BED and Ob patients, while impulsivity (inversely associated with FSFI total, orgasm, and pain) and shape concern (inversely associated with arousal, lubrication, orgasm) were main determinants for BED patients only.
Conclusions. BED patients, compared to obese non-BED and controls, have worse sexual functioning, which is associated with high levels of emotional eating, impulsivity, and shape concerns. The relationship between sexual functioning and eating psychopathology should be carefully addressed in obese patients with and without BED. Castellini G, Mannucci E, Mazzei C, Lo Sauro C, Faravelli C, Rotella CM, Maggi M, and Ricca V. Sexual function in obese women with and without binge eating disorder. J Sex Med 2010;7:3969–3978.