Binge Eating Among Children and Adolescents
With the alarming increase in pediatric obesity (Ogden et al., 2006), it is imperative that correlates and predictors of excessive weight gain be identified and targeted for decreasing the vast number of youths struggling with overweight. While genetics plays an enormous role in determining body weight, other physiologic, social, psychological, and behavioral factors have a substantial impact as well. This chapter focuses specifically on binge eating, defined as overeating while experiencing a lack of control over what or how much is being eaten (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2000). Relatively recent evidence suggests that binge eating may play a significant role in the development and maintenance of obesity.
This chapter will begin with an overview of binge eating in adults, with a focus on the putative diagnosis of binge eating disorder. A discussion of the challenge involved in measuring binge eating among youths will follow. Cross-sectional data on binge eating among adolescents will then be reviewed, followed by the corresponding literature including child samples. Since a number of studies have combined participants in middle childhood (6–12 years) with adolescents (13–17 years), for the purposes of this chapter, all studies including individuals younger than 10 years will be included in sections focusing on children. Prospective studies analyzing the outcomes and predictors of binge eating will be presented. The final section will address directions and challenges for future research. Throughout this chapter, only studies that defined binge eating as including a sense of “loss of control” while overeating will be addressed. Studies that equate the construct of binge eating with overeating without assessing whether a loss of control is experienced will not be reviewed. Furthermore, data regarding binge eating should be considered as in the absence of purging or nonpurging compensatory behaviors. A caveat, however, is that a number of epidemiologic studies do not discriminate binge eating in conjunction with compensatory behaviors from binge eating in the absence of such behaviors.
KeywordsEating Disorder Binge Eating Body Dissatisfaction Bulimia Nervosa Binge Eating Disorder
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