What's driving the binge in binge eating disorder? A prospective examination of precursors and consequences

Richard I. Stein, Justin Kenardy, Claire V. Wiseman, Jennifer Zoler Dounchis, Bruce A. Arnow, Denise E. Wilfley

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179 Scopus citations


Objective: Previous research, mostly using retrospective reports, indicated a relation of negative affect and dietary restraint with the occurrence of binge episodes in binge eating disorder (BED). We employed Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) to better understand precursors and consequences of binge eating. Method: Thirty-three females with BED carried a handheld computer for 7 days, and were periodically prompted to indicate their current emotions, hunger, and binge status. Results: Negative mood and hunger were significantly higher at prebinge than at nonbinge times, but negative mood was even higher at postbinge. Participants attributed binge episodes to mood more frequently than to hunger or abstinence violation. Conclusion: The finding that negative mood is actually heightened subsequent to a binge suggests the need to further investigate what is reinforcing about a binge, including possible escape from self-awareness. Strengths of EMA technology are discussed, as well as its broad utility in BED assessment and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-203
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Binge eating disorder
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment
  • Experience sampling
  • Negative affect


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