Loss of control (LOC) eating in youth is associated cross-sectionally with eating-related and psychosocial distress and is predictive of excessive weight gain. However, few longitudinal studies have examined the psychological impact and persistence of pediatric LOC eating. We administered the Eating Disorder Examination and self-reported measures of depressive and anxiety symptoms to 195 boys and girls (mean age = 10.4 years, SD = 1.5) at baseline and again 4.7 years (SD = 1.2) later to 118 of these youth. Missing data were imputed. Baseline report of LOC was associated with the development of partial- or full-syndrome binge eating disorder (p = .03), even after accounting for the contribution of sex, race, baseline characteristics (age, disordered eating attitudes, and mood symptoms), body mass index growth between baseline and follow-up, and years in study. Half (52.2%; 95% CI [1.15, 6.22]) of children who endorsed experiencing LOC at baseline reported persistence of LOC at follow-up (p = .02). Compared with children who never reported LOC eating or reported LOC only at baseline, those with persistent LOC experienced significantly greater increases in disordered eating attitudes (ps < .001) and depressive symptoms (p = .027) over time. These data suggest that LOC eating in children is a problematic behavior that frequently persists into adolescence and that persistent LOC eating is associated with worsening of emotional distress.
- Binge eating disorder
- Loss of control eating