How does binge eating disorder affect normal-weight women– TEDp study seeks subjects

By Eunice Chen, PhD, PI, Temple Eating Disorders Program, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Eunice Chen, TEDpBinge eating disorder (BED) affects people with a range body weights. It may be that many people who suffer from binge eating disorder aren’t even aware they have BED. When someone is within what is considered a “normal” weight range, friends, family, and health professionals may not recognize a problem that warrants treatment. At Temple Eating Disorders Program (TEDp), we’re conducting a study to explore how binge eating disorder affects “normal-weight” women, and we’re looking for women to participate.

Binge eating disorder signs

Research has found that those who struggle with binge eating disorder experience shame, isolation, and physical discomfort following a binge episode. We know that silently suffering takes a toll emotionally over time. In fact, we know individuals with BED report greater emotional distress, suicidal ideation, and functional impairment than those without an eating disorder.

While a larger percentage of those who have BED are of higher weights, “normal-weight” individuals who suffer with BED may be an unheard group, as concerns may be dismissed by friends, family, and health professionals.

As part of our study, we want to learn about these individuals’ experiences. What is it like to feel like your eating is sometimes out of control but have no outward sign of a problem? What do you feel before, during, and after what might be a binge? How do people respond when you express concern or distress over your own behavior?

TEDp binge eating disorder study

In our TEDp NIMH-funded study, we are looking for women with BED in the northeast region who have a body mass index within the “normal” range according to CDC criteria (this can be calculated here). We’d like them to share their experiences with us, so we can better understand how women with binge-eating disorder respond differently to food using neuroimaging methods. Our study will be comparing women who have binge eating disorder to matched healthy controls.

Research on the biological basis of binge eating has been limited, despite binge eating disorder being the most prevalent eating disorder and a significant unrecognized, under-diagnosed public health problem. This is important, because we have identified underlying contributors to and effective treatments for BED.

In our own research so far, the younger women we have met who are within “normal” weight range and meet binge eating disorder criteria are not aware they may have binge-eating disorder.

We can see how early intervention would be difficult if individuals and health professionals are unaware that binge eating disorder doesn’t discriminate based on weight—and, further, assume there is no problem simply because an individual is not “over” or “under” what is considered “normal” weight.

The lack of identification of binge eating disorder in younger, “normal-weight groups” may be the other side of the weight stigma coin associated with BED and obesity.

Participate in this study

To learn more about and participate in our study: