Gender Differences Are Identified in BED Patients

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
March/April 2003 Volume 13, Number 2
©2002 Gürze Books

Unlike other eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, which are significantly more common among women, a sizeable number of binge eating disorder (BED) patients are men. One estimate is that women are about 1.5 times more likely to develop BED than are men (Int J Eat Disord 1993;13:137).

Some gender differences have been identified. For example, among men, binge eating may be linked to negative emotions, such as depression and anger, while in women binge eating may be tied to diet failures. In addition, women may be more prone than their male counterparts to try extreme dieting or to compensate for their weight by purging or extreme exercise.

Dr. Declan T. Barry and other researchers at Yale University School of Medicine enrolled 182 adults (147 women and 35 males) in a controlled outpatient trial (Int J Eat Disord 2002; 31:63.). All subjects met DSM-IV research criteria for BED. A combination of questionnaires and clinical interviews was used during the study, including the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders, the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire version, and the Body Shape Questionnaire.

Men: more likely to be obese and hungrier

Men and women were similar on several developmental variables, including age when first overweight, age at first diet, age at onset of regular binge eating, and number of 20-lb weight cycles. Similarly, men and women did not differ significantly on frequency of binge eating, eating concerns or weight or shape concerns.

As for differences, men did have significantly higher current BMIs than did women, and were more likely than women to be rated as obese (86% vs. 71%, respectively). They also had significantly higher degrees of hunger. Men also reported a higher frequency of past drug abuse problems. However, the women had significantly higher rates of body image dissatisfaction (measured on the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire) and greater cognitive restraint (as reported on the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire; Stunkard and Messick, 1985).

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