Objectives: Evidence suggests that while objective binge eating (OBE) and subjective binge eating (SBE) differ in the amount of food consumed, both are associated with impairment in people with eating disorders. However, only OBE is accounted for in the diagnostic criteria of eating disorders. This study compared the sociodemographic profile and burden of OBE versus SBE at a population level.
Design: Population-based survey.
Participants: A representative sample of 3028 men and women. Participants were categorised into four groups based on their reporting of binge eating in the past 3 months: non-binge eating group (no OBE or SBE), OBE group, SBE group and OSBE group (both OBE and SBE).
Outcome measures: Demographics (age, genderand body mass index, BMI), binge eating, distress, weight/shape overvaluation and health-related quality of life. Groups were compared on sociodemographic information, overvaluation and health-related quality of life. The OBE and SBE groups were also compared on the distress related to binge eating.
Results: No differences were found between the SBE group and OBE group in age, gender, BMI, mental health-related quality of life and overvaluation (all p>0.05). However, differences were found in the OSBE participants, namely that they were younger, had a higher mean BMI, lower mental health-related quality of life and higher overvaluation of weight/shape than the non-binge-eating participants (all p<0.001). Proportions of participants who reported distress related to binge eating in the OBE and SBE groups also did not differ (p=0.678).
Conclusion: There is little difference in the demographic profile or burden of people who engage in OBE versus SBE, supporting the proposed inclusion of SBE in the diagnostic criteria for eating disorders in International Classification of Diseases-11. People who experience both OBE and SBE may experience a relatively higher eating disorder severity and impairment.
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- binge eating
- eating disorders
- subjective binge