Toronto: Childhood sexual or emotional abuse, which leads to self-criticism, may be one of the reasons behind binge eating, research says.
Binge eaters stuff themselves with a day`s worth of food in two hours or less, and then feel disgusted, depressed and guilty once they finally stop.
They do it again, repeatedly and uncontrollably, once a week or more for months on end.
Binge eating disorder is a psychiatric condition similar to other eating disorders like bulimia, minus the countervailing purging behaviour, and compulsive overeating, but without the constant fantasising about food.
Some sufferers, in fact, have very negative associations with food. Moreover, until now, researchers knew little about the underlying causes of binge eating disorder.
David M. Dunkley, psychiatric researcher and clinical psychologist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, and his colleagues studied a group of 170 people suffering from binge eating disorder.
They discovered that the severity of the condition -- reflected by greater body dissatisfaction and depressive symptoms -- appears to be linked to very specific histories of childhood sexual or emotional abuse, which in turn lead to self-criticism.
"Childhood sexual abuse or emotional abuse were associated with greater body dissatisfaction in binge eating disorder, whereas physical abuse or physical or emotional neglect were not," explained Dunkley, psychiatrist and project director at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at the Jewish General Hospital.
The disorder is twice as common among women as among men, said Jewish General Hospital release said.
The results were published recently in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.