An evaluation of the relationship between mood and binge eating in the natural environment using ecological momentary assessment

Krislea E. Wegner, Joshua M. Smyth, Ross D. Crosby, David Wittrock, Stephen A. Wonderlich, James E. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

112 Scopus citations


Objective: Although many current theories of disordered eating focus on affective mechanisms, relatively little is known about the covariation of mood and eating in peoples' natural environments. This study examined the relationship between mood and binge eating behavior in the natural environment. Method: Twenty-seven college students with subclinical binge eating behavior self-monitored their mood on a handheld computer seven times daily for 2 weeks. Results: On binge days, participants reported having significantly worse mood than on nonbinge days. When the trajectory of mood around the time of a binge was examined, no significant differences between prebinge and postbinge time were found when the entire binge day was examined. No mood differences were found between just prior to the binge (30-60 min prior to binge) compared with just after the binge (also within 30-60 min). A postbinge report indicated that reported mood immediately after a binge was worse than mood just prior to the binge. Discussion: This study provides evidence that the affective experience of binge eating, when assessed in the natural environment, is negative. Furthermore, there was no evidence that binge eating was a response to an immediate or transient negative mood state or that binge eating provided relief from negative mood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-361
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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