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Somatic symptoms and binge eating in women's daily lives.

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The present study aimed to determine whether the momentary severity of women's somatic symptoms was concurrently and prospectively associated with their engagement in binge eating in naturalistic settings.


Thirty women (Mage = 34.13, SD = 13.92) who had engaged in binge eating at least once over the month prior to study entry completed a 14-day ecological momentary assessment (EMA) protocol. During each of the 14 days, participants received five semi-random surveys via text message that assessed momentary somatic symptom severity (i.e., headaches, stomachaches/pain, chest/heart pain, faintness/dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue) and disordered eating behaviors. Generalized estimating equations were used to determine whether momentary somatic symptoms were concurrently and prospectively (i.e., by participants' next assessment) associated with the occurrence of binge eating behavior, while controlling for age and body mass index.


At the within-person level, more severe stomachaches/pain, faintness/dizziness, shortness of breath, and fatigue were concurrently associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in binge eating. Further, at the between-person level, more severe stomachaches/pain, chest/heart pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue in general were associated with binge eating across the EMA protocol. Momentary stomachache/pain severity also prospectively predicted women's engagement in binge eating behavior at the next assessment.


The present results provide initial evidence that multiple somatic symptoms may serve as momentary correlates or proximal antecedents of binge eating behavior in women's daily lives. Somatic symptoms may consequently prove useful to target in eating disorder treatments, perhaps via interoceptive exposure interventions.

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