November 12, 2019
2 min read

PTSD associated with binge eating symptoms in men and women

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Joel Braun

Both subthreshold and threshold PTSD are associated with binge-eating symptoms in men and women, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

“Mental health care professionals working with individuals with subthreshold and threshold PTSD should assess for the possible presence of binge-eating behaviors in addition to screening for other health risk behaviors such as smoking and the use of drugs and alcohol,” Joel Braun, MD, BSc, first-year psychiatry resident at the University of Manitoba’s Max Rady College of Medicine, told Healio Psychiatry. “Integrated therapies that address both trauma-related symptoms and binge eating symptoms could be developed as our understanding of the associations between trauma exposure, PTSD and binge eating behavior evolves.

Researchers analyzed data from 36,309 noninstitutionalized U.S. civilians aged 18 years and older from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III. All participants’ PTSD, trauma exposure and binge-eating symptoms were analyzed via the Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule, DSM-V Version. To evaluate presence of binge-eating symptoms, participants were asked whether they had eaten an unusually large amount of food within a 2-hour period excluding holidays, if they are ate an unusually large amount of food on average for at least once a week for at least 3 months and if the they felt they couldn’t stop eating or control how much they were eating when consuming an unusually large amount of food. Participants were stratified into three groups for comparison — trauma-exposed participants with low or no PTSD symptoms, participants with subthreshold PTSD and participants with threshold PTSD.

Results showed that the likelihood of endorsing one or more binge-eating symptoms among individuals without trauma exposure was 11.7% among men and 5.5% among women. Individuals with PTSD showed a higher likelihood, with a rate of 40% among men and 25.7% among women. Lifetime prevalence of binge-eating disorder was also higher among individuals with PTSD, with a rate of 0.2% among men and women without PTSD, and 2.7% and 4.7% among men and women with PTSD, respectively.

These results are in line with previous studies that have that have demonstrated a link between PTSD, eating disorders and engaging in maladaptive eating behaviors,” Braun said. “Future research should examine whether maladaptive eating behaviors like binge-eating increase the risk of physical health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.”


Disclosures: The authors report funding from the Max Rady College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. Natalie Mota and Renee El-Gabalwy report support from the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences Start-up Funds.