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Obes Res. 1999 Jul;7(4):379-86.

Binge eating, body image, depression, and self-efficacy in an obese clinical population.

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  • 1Cape Psych Center, Cape Cod Hospital, Hyannis, MA 02601, USA. CAP.MD-CB@CCH.CAPECOD.NET



Binge eating disorder appears to be an important factor in obesity treatment. Researchers have proposed that specialized treatment programs be developed to address chronic binge eating behavior. This study was conducted to examine the relationships between binge eating, depression, body image, and self-efficacy. Based on related research, it was hypothesized that depression and negative body image would be greater for binge eaters whereas weight self-efficacy would be lower.


Subjects were 159 clinic patients participating in a multidisciplinary weight management program. Baseline measurements of binge eating status, body image and related eating behaviors, depression, and self-efficacy were obtained, whereas follow-up measures consisted of weight loss and attendance. Exploratory factor analyses were performed to obtain factors for items contained in the Eating Habits Questionnaire. Chi-square, t-tests, and logistic regression analyses determined relationships between binge eating, body image, depression, and self-efficacy.


Univariate comparisons indicated that increased perceptions of poor body image were significantly related to binge eating. Higher levels of depression and lower weight self-efficacy were related to binge eating, but the results were qualified after applying corrective statistics for multiple comparisons. A stepwise regression analysis indicated that body image, particularly characterized by a sense of shame and concern with public appearance, had the strongest relationship to binge eating among all the factors examined in this study.


These findings extend current understanding of the relationships between binge eating, body image, depression, and self-efficacy. The significance of body image, especially in relation to negative social consciousness, was determined when comparing several psychological and behavioral factors thought to influence binge eating. Further research is needed to determine the causal relationships between binge eating and the other factors examined in this study.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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