Pregnancy may increase the risk of developing binge eating disorder

September 6, 2007

Pregnancy may open a window of vulnerability for developing binge eating disorder, especially for women from lower socio-economic situations, according to a study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers and colleagues in Norway.

In a long-term study of 100,000 pregnant Norwegian women, the researchers saw an unexpected increase in new incidences of binge eating disorder that began during pregnancy. The research is the largest population-based study of eating disorders during pregnancy.

Previously, small clinical studies had suggested that often eating disorders go into remission during pregnancy, just as some pregnant women spontaneously quit smoking cigarettes.

“We need to be very vigilant across the socioeconomic spectrum to screen for the development of disordered eating during pregnancy. It’s very important that all women receive adequate prenatal care that includes nutritional support,” said Dr. Cynthia M. Bulik, lead study author and William R. and Jeanne H. Jordan Distinguished Professor of eating disorders in the department of psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine and the department of nutrition in the UNC School of Public Health.

The findings were published in the August 2007 issue of Psychological Medicine. The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Binge eating differs from the normal cravings that pregnant women often report, Bulik explained. People with binge eating disorder regularly consume large amounts of food in a set period of time and report feeling out-of-control during the episode.

The disorder differs from bulimia nervosa in that sufferers don’t engage in purging, such as using vomiting or laxatives.

In addition to contributing to weight gain and obesity, binge eating disorder is also associated with health problems such as anxiety and depression, insomnia, and chronic pain.

In the study, for women who already had the disorder, continuation of symptoms during pregnancy was more common than remission, the researchers found. New cases were more likely than other eating disorders to develop during pregnancy. Lower education and lower minimum combined income was associated with new onset cases of binge eating disorders.

The researchers will follow the impact of eating disorders, especially binge eating, on the women and their children over time. They want to find out, for instance, if fluctuating nutrients during gestation have impact on children’s birth weight, development and childhood and adolescent eating and weight patterns.

“We have this group of women that we need to study intensively to find out the impact of binge eating on offspring. We didn’t know these women existed before,” Bulik said.

Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Explore further: Diabulimia issues uncovered by research

Related Stories

Diabulimia issues uncovered by research

September 28, 2017
Initial findings from an Abertay University counselling project looking specifically at issues for young people with type 1 diabetes has pinpointed a need for greater emotional support for those struggling to cope.

Shedding consistent pounds each week linked to long-term weight loss

August 28, 2017
When it comes to losing weight, it's not necessarily slow, but steady, that wins the race, according to new research from Drexel University.

Study shows why underrepresented men should be included in binge eating research

October 26, 2011
Binge eating is a disorder which affects both men and women, yet men remain underrepresented in research. A new study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders has found that the medical impact of the disorder ...

Eating disorders are affecting more UK women in their 40s and 50s

January 16, 2017
In a UK study of 5,320 women, 3% were found to have an active eating disorder in mid-life, a figure higher than expected as eating disorders are primarily associated with adolescence or early adulthood. The research was published ...

Study reveals high rate of disordered eating in young Australian women

June 28, 2016
Up to one-third of young Australian women experience episodes of binge or overeating, with socially disadvantaged women at greater than average risk.

Research finds ovarian hormones play genes like a fiddle

July 15, 2015
A complex relationship between genes, hormones and social factors can lead to eating disorders in women. Kelly Klump, Michigan State University eating disorder expert, has made monumental strides in deciphering how these ...

Recommended for you

Probing how Americans think about mental life

October 20, 2017
When Stanford researchers asked people to think about the sensations and emotions of inanimate or non-human entities, they got a glimpse into how those people think about mental life.

Itsy bitsy spider: Fear of spiders and snakes is deeply embedded in us

October 19, 2017
Snakes and spiders evoke fear and disgust in many people, even in developed countries where hardly anybody comes into contact with them. Until now, there has been debate about whether this aversion is innate or learnt. Scientists ...

Dutch courage—Alcohol improves foreign language skills

October 18, 2017
A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool, Maastricht University and King's College London, shows that bilingual speakers' ability to speak a second ...

Inflamed support cells appear to contribute to some kinds of autism

October 18, 2017
Modeling the interplay between neurons and astrocytes derived from children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Brazil, say innate ...

Study suggests psychedelic drugs could reduce criminal behavior

October 18, 2017
Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (often called magic mushrooms), LSD and mescaline (found in peyote) are associated with a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior, according to new research from investigators ...

Taking probiotics may reduce postnatal depression

October 18, 2017
Researchers from the University of Auckland and Otago have found evidence that a probiotic given in pregnancy can help prevent or treat symptoms of postnatal depression and anxiety.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.