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27-10-2010 | Mental health | Article

Binge eating common, influenced by menstrual cycle in bipolar women


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MedWire News: Binge eating is common in women with bipolar disorder (BD) and is influenced by menstrual cycle, researchers have found.

"Weight increase is a problem in women with BD," explain Stephanie Krüger (University Medicine Berlin, Germany) and team. "Furthermore, there is evidence that both binge eating disorder (BED) and menstrual cycle abnormalities occur more frequently in women with affective disorders than in the general population."

To investigate this association, the team studied 52 women with BD type I or II who were aged an average of 37 years and still menstruating. All of the women had been in BD remission for at least 6 months at the time of the study and were not using hormonal contraception. They had also only previously received medication for treatment of an acute episode and had opted against prophylactic pharmacotherapy.

Semistructured clinical interviews were used to diagnose BED according to DSM-IV criteria, and menstrual cycles were assessed prospectively over 3 months along with daily recording of eating behavior, including frequency of binge eating episodes.

The women were also asked to weigh themselves regularly during the study period.

In total, 15 (28.8%) women met criteria for a diagnosis of BED, and three (5.8%) met criteria for partial BED - binge eating episodes on less than 2 days a week.

In all of these women, menstrual cycle had a significant effect on binge eating symptoms, in that binge eating became more frequent and more severe in the week prior to menses than at any other stage in their cycle.

Furthermore, 12 (80%) of the 15 participants with full BED reported weight gain of an average 800 g in the week prior to menses.

The researchers also note that 15 (44.2%) of the 34 participants without full or partial BED reported increased impulsiveness in their eating behavior in the week prior to menses, but without losing control over the amount of food ingested or suffering from the guilt and shame that is characteristic of BED.

Krüger and team conclude in the Journal of Affective Disorders: "BED and overweight are common comorbidities in women with BD, and are often influenced by the menstrual cycle.

"Thus, clinical parameters of the menstrual cycle and premenstrual worsening of binge eating behavior should be routinely assessed in women with BD."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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