An Unhealthy Trio: BMI, BED, and Suicidality

Binge eating was associated with suicidality in one recent study.

Although binge eating disorder, or BED, is the most common eating disorder in the U.S., its course is less studied and understood than other EDs. Even fewer studies have assessed any relationship between BED and suicidal behaviors.

Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Michigan recently examined data from the 2001-2003 Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiologic Surveys (CPES), which included  information from 14,497 subjects (BMC Psychiatry. 2018; 18:196). The CPES is derived from three nationally representative cross-sectional household surveys designed to estimate the prevalence of psychopathology among adults older than 18. The surveys give specific attention to racial/ethnic minorities.

Dr. Krystal Lyn Brown and colleagues used the CPES Composite International Diagnostic Inventory, or CIDI, to assess binge episodes and BED.  Suicidal ideation was indexed by a CIDI module that assessed thinking about suicide or made a plan for committing suicide. The researchers also recorded data about lifetime suicidality.

Dr. Brown and colleagues found that about 4% of adults had a lifetime history of binge-eating episodes and 1.9% had a history of BED. Respondents with BED were younger, mostly female, and more likely to be obese than those with BED. Interestingly, a lifetime history of suicidality and prior suicide attempts were more common (roughly one and one-half to threefold higher) in those with BE episodes, and in those with BED.

Binge-eating behaviors and BMIs linked to suicidal ideation

Based on their study results, the authors reported that both binge-eating behaviors and body mass index (BMI) are independently related to suicidal ideation and attempts among U.S adults. The relationship between binge eating and suicidal was highest among those with higher BMIs. They also noted that the recent addition of BED to the DSM-5may help produce new conversations about the relationship between body weight, weight-control messages, and interventions, and mental health.

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