Title

Binge eating antecedents among female college students: An ecological momentary assessment study

Date of Award

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Psychology/Clinical

First Advisor

Robert Carels

Abstract

Using ecological momentary assessment with female binge eaters, this investigation compared binge eating episodes, regular meals, and non-eating episodes (i.e., random prompts) on mood, dietary restraint, stress, and body dissatisfaction. This study also examined differences in caloric totals of binge episodes and regular meals and whether weight status or size of a binge were associated with the psychological antecedents. It was hypothesized that participants would report greater depression, dietary restraint, stress, and body dissatisfaction immediately prior to binge episodes compared to regular meals and random prompts. Also, it was hypothesized that binges would contain more calories than regular meals and that overweight/obese bingers would report larger binges than normal weight bingers. Eighteen normal weight and 20 overweight/obese female college students meeting the criteria for binge eating disorder or subthreshold binge eating disorder participated in this study. They completed a 3-day food diary and an 11-day binge eating diary. Participants recorded mood, dietary restraint, stress, and body dissatisfaction in response to binges, regular meals, and random prompts for two weeks. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) examined differences among binge episodes, regular meals, and random prompts on the psychological antecedents. GEE also examined the association between weight status and psychological antecedents during binge episodes, regular meals, and random prompts and the association between calorie content of the binge and psychological antecedents. Results showed that depression, stress, and body dissatisfaction were significantly greater prior to binge episodes than prior to regular meals and random prompts. Dietary restraint was significantly greater prior to binge episodes than prior to regular meals. Being normal weight was associated with significantly greater dietary restraint prior to binge eating episodes. Binge eating episodes contained significantly more calories than regular meals; however binges containing greater caloric totals were not preceded by significantly greater depression, dietary restraint, stress, and body dissatisfaction. The caloric total of a binge eating episode did not differ significantly between overweight/obese and normal weight bingers. Implications and future directions are discussed.