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Binge Eating Severity Found to be Directly Related to Severity of Childhood Sexual or Emotional Abuse

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is an eating disorder in which an individual eats large quantities of food, usually very quickly. However, unlike Bulimia, the person does not “purge” the food by vomiting, use of laxatives, or excessive exercise.

A recent study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders by clinical psychologist David M. Dunkley and colleagues at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) in Montreal, Canada studied a group of 170 BED sufferers and discovered that the severity of the condition, which is reflected by greater body dissatisfaction and depressive symptoms, appears to be linked to very specific histories of childhood sexual or emotional abuse, which in turn lead to self-criticism. “Childhood sexual abuse or emotional abuse were associated with greater body dissatisfaction in BED, whereas physical abuse or physical or emotional neglect were not,” explained Dunkley. He adds, “We did look at alternative theories, like childhood emotional abuse leading to depression which leads to body dissatisfaction and self-criticism. But it doesn’t seem to work that way. Self-criticism is the mediator. Without it, it doesn’t seem to progress to greater body dissatisfaction in BED.”

The study suggests that treatment of BED focuses on self-criticism to improve symtpoms of the disorder.

Journal Reference:

David M. Dunkley, Robin M. Masheb, Carlos M. Grilo. Childhood maltreatment, depressive symptoms, and body dissatisfaction in patients with binge eating disorder: The mediating role of self-criticism. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 2010; DOI: 10.1002/eat.20796

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