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Are you Impulsive? Do you Binge Eat?

Kelly Klump
Kelly Klump – MSU/G.L. Kohuth

Do you feel the need to act out in some way when you’re having a bad day? According to new research, you are most likely at higher risk of binge eating as well.

Professor of psychology at Michigan State University, and senior author, Kelly Klump, suggests that her team’s research may contradict the commonly held belief that we binge eat because we’re upset. “It’s human nature to want to turn to something for comfort after a bad day, but what our research found is that the tendency to act rashly when faced with negative emotions is a personality trait that can lead to binge eating.” Binge eating doesn’t just happen because something went wrong at work. There’s something else driving it.

The study, “Examining Associations Between Negative Urgency and Key Components of Objective Binge Episodes,” was published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. Lead author, assistant professor of psychology at Ohio University, Sarah Racine, explained in a press statement that “both overeating and feeling out of control when eating small or normal amounts of food were related to rash action when experiencing negative emotions.” What does she attribute this to? “It is possible that relationships between binge eating and negative urgency reflect impairments in behavioral control over eating when upset. Overeating may instead represent increased sensitivity to rewarding effects of food in the context of negative emotions.”

The study included 612 female twins. 14 percent of the women had binge eating, overeating, or loss of control over eating. The study found that “women with OBEs, LOC only, and OO only had significantly higher levels of NU than women without these episodes, suggesting that NU is associated with both the LOC and OO components of OBEs.” Translated, women who lost control of their eating or women who chose to overeat were also more likely to feel the need to act in some manner (impulsively) when experiencing negative emotions.

For Klump, she hopes her research should help treat treatment plans better assist people suffering from eating disorders — properly addressing the underlying causes.

Other co-authors:

  • Pamela Keel from (Florida State University)
  • Cheryl Sisk (MSU)
  • S. Alexandra Burt (MSU)
  • Michael Neale (Virginia Commonwealth University)
  • Steven Boker (University of Virginia)

One Comment

  1. Mike Mike June 2, 2015

    That explains oh so much…

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