The clinical significance of binge eating among older adult women: an investigation into health correlates, psychological wellbeing, and quality of life

Lisa Smith Kilpela, Victoria B. Marshall, Pamela K. Keel, Andrea Z. LaCroix, Sara E. Espinoza, Savannah C. Hooper, Nicolas Musi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: One type of overnutrition, binge eating (BE; eating an unusually large amount of food with loss of control), is prevalent among older adult women. Yet, little is known about the clinical significance of this eating disorder pathology in older adults, especially in relation to health outcomes used in geriatrics, while controlling for associations with body mass index (BMI). Method: Women (N = 227) aged 60–94 completed two measures of BE and health/wellness questionnaires online. We used multivariable analyses to compare women with Clinical-frequency BE (≥ weekly frequency), Subclinical-frequency BE (< weekly), and No BE on health/wellness outcomes controlling for BMI. We conducted partial correlations controlling for BMI to examine associations between BE severity and health indices. Results: Controlling for BMI, the Clinical-frequency BE group reported poorer health-related quality of life (physical function, role limitations due to both emotional and physical problems, vitality, emotional wellbeing, social function, and pain) and poorer psychological health (depression, body image) compared to both Subclinical-frequency BE and No BE. The Clinical-frequency BE group also reported poorer sleep, nutritious food consumption, general health, and positive affect compared to No BE. Associations between a separate measure of BE severity and health indices confirmed findings from group comparisons. Conclusion: Weekly BE may offer a promising screening benchmark for identifying one type of overnutrition in older women that is associated with numerous indicators of poorer health, independent of the effects of BMI. More research is needed to understand risks for and consequences of BE unique to older adult women. Plain English Summary: Binge eating (BE; eating an unusually large amount of food with loss of control), is prevalent among older adult women and is associated with health problems in younger populations. Yet, little is known about how BE is related to other health problems in older adults. We compared health behaviors, physical health, health-related quality of life, and psychological health between older adult women who reported weekly or more frequent BE (i.e., Clinical BE), those with low frequency BE (i.e., Subclinical BE), and those with no BE, while accounting for BMI. Older women in the Clinical BE group reported poorer health-related quality of life, more depression symptoms, and worse body image compared to the Subclinical BE and No BE groups. Compared to the No BE group, the Clinical BE group also reported poorer sleep, less frequent consumption of nutritious foods, worse health, and less frequent positive emotions. Using a separate measure of BE severity, we found similar associations with these health outcomes. Engaging in weekly BE may represent one type of overnutrition behavior in older women that is associated with numerous indicators of poorer health. More research is needed to understand risks for and consequences of BE unique to older adult women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number97
JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Binge eating
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Older adults
  • Women’s health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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