The specificity of psychological factors associated with binge eating in adolescent boys and girls.


Low self-esteem, lack of interoceptive awareness, perfectionism, body dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, weight teasing, and internalization of the societal body ideal are known to be associated with binge eating (BE) in adolescents. The purpose of the present cross-sectional study was to investigate whether these attributes are BE-specific and whether different patterns exist for boys and girls. We assessed BE, internalizing symptoms and psychological factors in 1039 adolescents from a community sample by self-report. Using multinomial logistic regression and controlling for measured height and weight, we compared adolescents with BE with individuals from a healthy control group and adolescents reporting internalizing symptoms. Individuals from the BE-group reported a greater lack of interoceptive awareness and higher body dissatisfaction than individuals from the healthy control group. Additionally, we found a significant interaction between gender and body dissatisfaction. Internalization of the societal body ideal was related to BE when compared to internalizing symptoms. Results suggest, that the lack of interoceptive awareness and body dissatisfaction display substantial associations with BE, and that the latter effect is especially strong in boys. The internalization of societal standards of beauty emerged as a BE-specific factor and this finding emphasizes the role of the societal body ideal in the nature of eating pathology in boys and in girls. Increasing body satisfaction and the acceptance of realistic body ideals might be effective strategies in preventing eating pathology.