On June 19th at 12.00, Katrin Kukk will defend her doctoral thesis in psychology: "Risk factors of binge eating and overeating – towards an integrated model".
Kirsti Akkermann, PhD University of Tartu
Unna N. Danner, PhD University of Utrecht, The Netherlands
This doctoral thesis aimed to assess risk factors of binge eating and overeating using experience sampling method, in addition to expand current knowledge about eating behavior among men. Overeating and binge eating as aspects of disordered eating behavior increase the risk of overweight and eating disorders. Binge eating comprises eating a large amount of food and experiencing loss of control during eating, while overeating comprises eating a large amount of food without the experience of loss of control. We found that nearly half of the participants experienced overeating and around quarter of participants experienced binge eating during the study period. Our research showed that emotion regulation difficulties, i.e. the inability to reduce the intensity of one’s negative emotions, and the need to restrain one’s eating are both associated with binge eating. However, the role of emotion regulation difficulties was somewhat different in men and women. Among men, difficulties in emotion regulation mediated the effect of negative affect on binge eating, meaning that the association between negative affect and binge eating is partly due to emotion regulation difficulties. While among women emotion regulation difficulties had a moderating effect, i.e. the interaction between emotion regulation difficulties and negative affect predicted binge eating. Negative affect, fluctuations in negative affect, preoccupation with one’s body image and bodyweight and neuroticism also predicted binge eating in an integrated model. However, overeating was not associated with these aspects. The results of this doctoral thesis could be used for designing better prevention strategies. For instance, teaching adaptive ways to alleviate strong negative emotions as well as addressing dietary restraint could help in preventing binge eating.