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Int J Eat Disord. 2015 Sep;48(6):535-54. doi: 10.1002/eat.22419. Epub 2015 May 26.

Cognitive and emotional functioning in binge-eating disorder: A systematic review.

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Leipzig University Medical Center, Integrated Research and Treatment Center Adiposity Diseases, Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Leipzig, Germany.



Binge-eating disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating and is associated with eating disorder and general psychopathology and overweight/obesity. Deficits in cognitive and emotional functioning for eating disorders or obesity have been reported. However, a systematic review on cognitive and emotional functioning for individuals with BED is lacking.


A systematic literature search was conducted across three databases (Medline, PubMed, and PsycINFO). Overall, n = 57 studies were included in the present review.


Regarding cognitive functioning (CoF), individuals with BED consistently demonstrated higher information processing biases compared to obese and normal-weight controls in the context of disorder-related stimuli (i.e., food and body cues), whereas CoF in the context of neutral stimuli appeared to be less affected. Thus, results suggest disorder-related rather than general difficulties in CoF in BED. With respect to emotional functioning (EmF), individuals with BED reported difficulties similar to individuals with other eating disorders, with a tendency to show less severe difficulties in some domains. In addition, individuals with BED reported greater emotional deficits when compared to obese and normal-weight controls. Findings suggest general difficulties in EmF in BED. Thus far, however, investigations of EmF in disorder-relevant situations are lacking.


Overall, the cross-sectional findings indicate BED to be associated with difficulties in CoF and EmF. Future research should determine the nature of these difficulties, in regards to general and disorder-related stimuli, and consider interactions of both domains to foster the development and improvement of appropriate interventions in BED.


binge-eating disorder; cognitive functioning; emotion regulation; emotional awareness; emotional functioning; obesity

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