The Overlap Between Binge Eating Behaviours & Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

16 October 2017

This article investigates the relationship between binge eating, in the broader context of eating disorder behaviors, and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), taking into account shared characteristics between Eating Disorders (EDs) and PCOS.

A total of 21 studies, which investigated the presence of binge eating in PCOS populations and the presence of PCOS in EDs populations, were synthesized. Findings suggested that an increased prevalence of binge eating has been reported in women with PCOS; and that women suffering from Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder are more likely to display polycystic ovaries.

In particular, studies indicate that Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome main features (e.g. insulin instability, food cravings, overproduction of androgens and menstrual irregularities) associate with increased appetite, impaired impulse control and feelings of body dissatisfaction. Binge eating behaviors, which is characterized by consuming an excessively large amount of food in a short period of time and experiencing a loss of control over eating, have been shown to reinforce PCOS symptomatology, precipitating concurrently body dissatisfaction, weight gain, insulin instability and overproduction of androgens.

Further research on their shared liabilities is required in order to inform more efficient prevention and treatment initiatives for individuals presenting with comorbid features.

By Dr Chiara Paganini1, 2, Gregory Peterson1, Vasilis Stavropoulos3 and Isabel Krug4

1Faculty of Health, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia; 2Faculty of Health, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia;3 Faculty of Health, Federation University, Ballarat, Australia; 4 Faculty of Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Dr Chiara Paganini is a clinical psychologist at Seed Psychology, and has a particular interest in the treatment of eating disorders.

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