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J Psychosom Res. 2013 Nov;75(5):456-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2013.08.009. Epub 2013 Aug 27.

Binge eating, body mass index, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.



Symptoms of both gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are frequently reported by individuals who binge eat. Higher body mass index (BMI) has also been associated with these disorders and with binge eating (BE). However, it is unknown whether BE influences GERD/IBS and how BMI might affect these associations. Thus, we examined the potential associations among BE, GERD, IBS, and BMI.


Participants were from the Swedish Twin study of Adults: Genes and Environment (STAGE) and provided information on disordered eating behavior, BMI, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, and commonly comorbid psychiatric and somatic illnesses. Key features of GERD and IBS were identified to create modified definitions of both disorders that were used as primary outcome variables. Logistic regression models were applied to determine the association between BE and each GERD/IBS both independently and in the context of BMI and other commonly comorbid psychiatric and somatic morbidities.


Prevalence estimates for GERD and IBS were higher among women than men (all p-values<.001). Only the association between BE and IBS was significant in both men and women after adjustment for BMI and the psychiatric/somatic morbidities.


BE appears to be an important consideration in the presence of IBS symptoms in both men and women, even when considering the impact of BMI and other commonly comorbid conditions. This association underscores the importance of routine assessment of BE in patients presenting with IBS to effectively manage the concurrent presentation of these problems.


Binge eating; Body mass index; Gastroesophageal reflux disease; Irritable bowel syndrome

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