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06-06-2011 | Psychology | Article

Binge eating disorder linked to hypomania


Free abstract

MedWire News: Obese patients with binge eating disorder (BED) are at increased risk for bipolar spectrum symptoms, results from an Italian study suggest.

Writing in the Journal of Affective Disorders, Luca Lavagnino and colleagues from the University of Turin explain: "The relationship of mood disorders with binge eating and obesity has been the subject of much research. Depression has been shown to be frequently associated with obesity, and it often presents with comorbid binge eating."

However, they add that less is known about the presence of bipolar spectrum symptoms in obese patients with binge eating symptoms.

To investigate the risk for hypomania across the binge eating spectrum, the researchers studied 103 obese patients (body mass index >30 kg/m2), aged at least 18 years, with suspected binge eating.

BED was defined according to DSM-IV-TR criteria as at least two binge episodes per week for a period of 6 months accompanied by a subjective sense of loss of control over eating. Distress about the binge eating and at least three of five additional criteria are also required.

Patients were classified with subthreshold BED (s-BED) if they met most of the above criteria, but experienced binge eating episodes less frequently (less than twice a week).

All of the patients were assessed using the Hypomania Checklist (HCL-32), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI).

In total, 44 patients were diagnosed with full BED while 59 patients were classified with s-BED.

The researchers found that patients who met full BED criteria had more hypomania symptoms than s-BED patients, with HCL-32 scores of 17.1 versus 15.3.

Patients who met full BED criteria also had lower scores for the TCI character dimensions of self-directedness and cooperativeness compared with s-BED patients, at 19.0 versus 22.3, and 28.2 versus 30.9, respectively.

Logistic regression analysis revealed that female gender, reduced cooperativeness, and increased HLC-32 scores were significantly associated with a diagnosis of BED, whereas self-directedness lost significance.

Lavagnino and team conclude: "Patients with more severe binge eating might be more likely to have a comorbid bipolar spectrum disorder."

They add: "Hypomanic symptoms should be assessed and mood stabilizing treatment should be considered in these patients."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Mark Cowen

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