Diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder (BED) appear in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition as "criteria for further study." Few epidemiological studies of BED have been conducted. Our aim was to describe the prevalence and correlates of BED, as assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) in a community sample.
Descriptive epidemiology from a survey of 910 randomly ascertained participants residing in the greater metropolitan area of St Louis, Mo.
Sixty individuals (6.6%) screened positive for current BED, as assessed by the PHQ (BED+). Men were as likely to screen positive as women. BED+ subjects were at substantially elevated odds for depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and past suicide attempts; individuals with obesity who screened negative for BED (BED-) were not at elevated odds for these syndromes. BED+ subjects, but not other obese individuals, exhibited substantially lower scores on measures of mental health-related quality of life. Personality traits associated with BED symptoms included high Novelty Seeking, high Harm Avoidance, and low Self-directedness. Personality and psychiatric profiles in obese, BED- individuals were closer to those for normal-weight, BED- individuals, suggesting that BED is distinct from typical obesity. BED+ subjects reported mean body mass index of 34.1, more than 6 units above BED- subjects.
PHQ-BED criteria are associated with substantial impairment, psychiatric comorbidity, and obesity and effectively discriminate obese individuals with psychological problems from obese subjects without similar problems. BED may be considerably more prevalent than other eating disorders and equally prevalent among men and women.