Binge And Overeating Linked To Drug Use
December 11, 2012

Binge Eating And Overeating May Be Linked To Drug Use

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Scientists recently found that binge eating and overeating could be related to the use of marijuana or other drugs in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The findings of the study were recently published online in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a research publication affiliated with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

"In summary, we found that binge eating, but not overeating, predicted the onset of overweight/obesity and worsening depressive symptoms. We further observed that any overeating, with or without LOC [loss of control], predicted the onset of marijuana and other drug use," wrote the authors in a prepared statement.

The researchers looked at the use of marijuana and other drugs by adolescents and young adults as well as the onset of overeating and binge eating that may occur as a result. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, binge eating is described as eating copious amount so food — more food than what is normally consumed by a person during a similar duration or similar circumstances. People who are overcome by binge eating or overeating tend to eat with a lack of control.

In particular, scientists from Boston Children´s Hospital looked at the link between overeating and binge eating along with negative outcomes like depressive symptoms, binge drinking, overweight/obesity, as well as marijuana and other drug abuse. Some 16,882 males and females between the ages of nine and 15 participated in the study. From 1996 to 2005, the study subjects completed questionnaires on binge eating and overeating every 12 to 24 months.

Based on the findings of the study, the researchers discovered that binge eating was more often found among females than males; 2.3 percent to 3.1 percent of females and 0.3 percent to 1 percent of males reported binge eating between the ages of 16 and 24.

Furthermore, binge eating was more often found to be related to overweight/obesity and the development of depressive symptoms. The study reported that there was no link between overeating and binge eating along with frequent binge drinking.

"Findings from this investigation and previous research suggest that LOC is an important indicator of severity of overeating episodes and highlight the importance of ascertaining LOC, in addition to whether adolescents engage in overeating episodes," concluded the authors in the report.

"Given that binge eating is uniquely predictive of some adverse outcomes and because previous work has found that binge eating is amenable to intervention, clinicians should be encouraged to screen adolescents for binge eating."

For those who are concerned about overeating, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a number of tips for avoiding this potentially dangerous habit. One key factor the organization highlights is the importance in understanding portion control. For example, serving food on individuals plates instead of putting serving dishes on the table can help minimize excess food and decreases the possibility of overeating.

The CDC also advises individuals to eat mindfully by not snacking or eating in front of the TV. By planning specific portions and eating from a bowl or container instead of a package, individuals can lessen the possibility of diverting attention away from food.