Why Impulsive Teens May Be More Likely To Binge-Eat

According to a new study, individuals who behave rashly when upset are more likely to binge-eat.

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Have you heard of binge-eating disorder? If not, chances are you're not the only one. That's because while it's the most common eating disorder (even more widespread than anorexia and bulimia combined), it's also the least discussed. Here at Choices magazine, we want to shine a light on the topic so that teens struggling with binge-eating can hopefully find help. As their teachers and parents, you can arm them with need-to-know facts and resources.

By definition, binge-eating disorder is when a person uncontrollably eats large amounts of food in a short period of time. There can also be feelings of shame and exhaustion accompanying the act.

Recently researchers from Michigan State University decided to take a look at what causes this habit of over-eating. According to the study, people who act impulsively when upset are more at risk for binge-eating. Senior author and professor of psychology Kelly Klump explains,

It’s human nature to want to turn to something for comfort after a bad day, but what our research found is that the tendency to act rashly when faced with negative emotions is a personality trait that can lead to binge eating.

Instead of bottling up feelings or reaching for that bag of chips, talking can be a great outlet for teens. Taking a moment to decompress and take deep breaths can help thwart the need to behave rashly.

As for why this research is important, Klump says it may help lead to better treatment. Understanding the underlying causes is key.

If we can treat the underlying tendency to jump to eating when feeling negative emotions like stress, we may be able to help thousands of individuals who suffer from a range of eating disorders.

Share this study with teens, along with the "The Secret Eating Disorder (You've Never Heard Of)" story from our April issue. The article includes a quiz and list of resources to find help.