April 5, 2012 by Deanna James, LPC, CEDS in Clinical Articles Several recent studies on Binge Eating Disorder have found that disordered eating may be linked to attention deficit and a lack of self awareness. Translated this may mean that those that suffer from BED may need to work towards increased self awareness and develop a more cohesive self concept. For those of us that treat eating disorders, the struggle with identity and self awareness is not a new concept but having research to back it can often help with treatment.
In one recent study, psychologists at Geneva University in Switzerland tested the cognitive abilities of three groups—obese individuals with BED, obese individuals without BED and a normal-weight control group. They found that obese participants had difficulties with inhibition and focusing their attention. These cognitive deficits were most severe in the BED group, which points to a “continuum of increasing inhibition and cognitive problems with increasingly disordered eating,” the authors wrote in the journal Appetite last August.
A different study in the August issue of the Western Journal of Nursing Researchfound that low executive function—the cognitive capacity for self-understanding and self-regulation—is correlated with both obesity and symptoms of ADHD. And several other studies have linked distraction with overeating. The study found that focusing on one’s meal was linked to eating less later in the day—although for someone with ADHD, such focus can prove challenging.
Taken together, these results suggest that treatment for binge eating may need to include strengthening mental functions such as attention and self-awareness.
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