Overvaluing Weight and Development of Binge Eating

Overconcern about weight led to weekly binge eating and more severe illness.

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
March/April Volume 26, Number 2
©2015 iaedp

Weight and shape overvaluation are defined as greater-than-normal concern about one’s weight and/or shape that unduly influences self-evaluation or self-worth. According to a researcher at Harvard Medical School, overvaluation of weight among overweight teenage girls increases the risk they will develop weekly binge eating (J Adolesc Health. 2015; 56:25).

Drs. Kendrin Sonneville and colleagues found this connection among 767 girls 12 to 18 years of age who were participating in the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS). The GUTS study is an ongoing nationwide study of children of women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. The researchers asked whether weight overvaluation at one time point (Time 1) could predict onset of weekly binge eating at a second time point (Time 2).

At Time 1, 24.5% of overweight/obese girls overvalued weight. Girls who overvalued their weight were more likely to have started binge eating weekly at the second time point two years later. Among the girls with weekly binge eating at Time 2, those who overvalued weight had more depressive symptoms and lower self-rated social status. The authors feel that this is a good potential target for prevention and intervention.

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