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Compr Psychiatry. 2002 Nov-Dec;43(6):431-7.

Temperament and character in obese women with and without binge eating disorder.

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Department of Neuroscience, Psychiatry Section, Service for Eating Disorders, Turin University, Turin, Italy.


Obesity is a serious disorder and its treatment involves dietitians, psychologists, and psychiatrists, often with a poor outcome. The role of psychiatric issues in obesity is equivocal, and so is the fact whether emotional and behavioral disturbances are causes or consequences of an individual's overweight condition. We performed a study that included 120 obese women (59 with binge eating disorder [BED] and 61 with non-BED) according to specific selection criteria, and compared to 80 healthy controls. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated for all patients and they were assessed with the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Despite the fact that obese patients with BED and without BED display a similar personality profile, those with BED show lower scores in Self-Directedness (SD). Both groups of obese patients differ from nonobese controls in Novelty Seeking (NS), Harm Avoidance (HA), Cooperativeness (C), and SD. SD seems to be the strongest predictor for the development of BED. The idea that two distinct groups of obese patients exist is supported. Moreover, as regards personality, a lower SD and a higher risk of Personality Disorders were found in obese BED patients. Different severities of overweight do not seem to relate to a specific personality susceptibility.

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