Binge eating in patients pursuing bariatric surgery: understanding relationships with food insecurity and adverse childhood experiences

Published:November 11, 2022DOI:


      • Childhood experiences of abuse/neglect were positively related to binge eating
      • Childhood experiences of household dysfunction were not related to binge eating
      • Food insecurity moderated association between childhood experiences and binge eating



      Positive relationships exist between adult food insecurity and binge eating, and between adverse childhood experiences and binge eating. However, the nature of these relationships remains to be determined.


      The current study sought to examine the association between binge eating and childhood abuse and/or neglect and household dysfunction and to explore whether the strength of the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and binge eating differs across levels of food insecurity in patients seeking bariatric surgery.


      University Hospital in the Appalachian region of United States.


      A total of 366 adults seeking bariatric surgery completed validated questionnaires as a component of a routine psychological evaluation prior to surgery.


      Only childhood experiences of abuse and/or neglect were positively related to adult binge eating, r(363) = .13, P = .011. Food insecurity moderated the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and binge eating, F(4, 358) = 242.98, P < .001, such that the relationship was stronger for individuals who endorsed the presence of both food insecurity and adverse childhood experiences (M = 15.90; standard deviation [SD] = 8.38), relative to individuals who endorsed the absence of both food insecurity and adverse childhood experiences (M = 11.19; SD = 7.91; Tukey P = .005; d = .58).


      Food insecurity strengthens the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and adult binge eating. Results suggest that healthcare providers should include assessments of both adverse childhood experiences and food insecurity to identify patients who may be at risk for disordered eating prior to surgery, as these individuals may require additional interventions to address binge eating and related factors.


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