Binge eating behaviours and food cravings in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Yvonne Jeanes, Sue Reeves, Edward Leigh Gibson, C. Piggott, V.A. May, K H Hart

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), the most common endocrine condition in women, is often anecdotally associated with binge eating behaviours and food cravings; however there is a paucity of research. This study aimed to report the prevalence of binge eating and food cravings and their relation to obesity risk in women with PCOS. Participants completed an online survey including the Bulimia Investigatory Test, Edinburgh, Food Cravings-Trait Questionnaire and the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire revised-18. The study included obese (n = 340), overweight (n = 70) and lean (n = 45) women with PCOS and lean healthy women (n = 40). Sixty percent of obese women with PCOS were categorised with binge-eating behaviour, with 39% presenting with clinically significant behaviour. Obese women with PCOS presented with high mean food cravings-trait scores (131.6 ± 28.9) that were significantly greater compared with lean (114.0 ± 34.9) and overweight women with PCOS (120.1 ± 29.5; p < 0.001). Multiple regression exploring relations between eating styles and adiposity explained 59% of the variance in binge eating symptom scores in women with PCOS (F = 173.8; p < 0.001, n = 463): significant predictors were food cravings total score (beta = 0.52; p < 0.001), emotional eating score (beta = 0.16; p < 0.001), BMI (beta = 0.13; p < 0.001) and uncontrolled eating score (beta = 0.10; p < 0.01). Compared with lean healthy women, lean women with PCOS exhibited significantly higher binge eating symptom scores (10.9 ± 7.8 versus 7.4 ± 6.0; p < 0.05), though similar total food craving scores (114.0 ± 34.9 versus 105.6 ± 26.6: NS). This study is the largest, to date, to robustly report that a high proportion of women with PCOS exhibit binge eating behaviours. We recommend screening women with PCOS for binge eating behaviours to help inform the choice of weight management approach for this clinical population.

© 2016, Elsevier Ltd. The attached document (embargoed until 04/11/2017) is an author produced version of a paper published in Appetite, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-32
Number of pages9
Early online date4 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Polycystic ovary syndrome; Obesity; Binge eating; Food cravings; Eating disorders

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