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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 407103, 8 pages
Research Article

Binge Eating Disorder Mediates Links between Symptoms of Depression, Anxiety, and Caloric Intake in Overweight and Obese Women

1Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA
2Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Biotechnology I, Richmond, VA 23298, USA
3Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA
4Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
5Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA

Received 31 December 2011; Revised 19 February 2012; Accepted 14 April 2012

Academic Editor: Kristin Schneider

Copyright © 2012 Roseann E. Peterson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Despite considerable comorbidity between mood disorders, binge eating disorder (BED), and obesity, the underlying mechanisms remain unresolved. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine models by which internalizing behaviors of depression and anxiety influence food intake in overweight/obese women. Thirty-two women (15 BED, 17 controls) participated in a laboratory eating-episode and completed questionnaires assessing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Path analysis was used to test mediation and moderation models to determine the mechanisms by which internalizing symptoms influenced kilocalorie (kcal) intake. The BED group endorsed significantly more symptoms of depression (10.1 versus 4.8, P=0.005 ) and anxiety (8.5 versus 2.7, P=0.003). Linear regression indicated that BED diagnosis and internalizing symptoms accounted for 30% of the variance in kcal intake. Results from path analysis suggested that BED mediates the influence of internalizing symptoms on total kcal intake (empirical P<0.001 ). The associations between internalizing symptoms and food intake are best described as operating indirectly through a BED diagnosis. This suggests that symptoms of depression and anxiety influence whether one engages in binge eating, which influences kcal intake. Greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying the associations between mood, binge eating, and food intake will facilitate the development of more effective prevention and treatment strategies for both BED and obesity.