Bulimia Nervosa is a serious eating disorder which affects a significant minority of young women in this country. While advances have occurred in the development of successful treatment strategies, little is actually known about the factors which precipitate and perpetuate the binge eating characteristic of this disorder. Such information is essential to a complete understanding of this illness and to the development of improved methods of treatment. In addition, preliminary studies suggest that a significant subgroup of obese individuals exhibits episodic binge eating which may be similar to that of normal weight individuals with Bulimia Nervosa. A new diagnostic category, Binge Eating Disorder, is being considered for inclusion in DSM-IV to describe this eating disorder. It is critical to obtain objective information to define the characteristics of this disorder and to provide a basis for comparison to Bulimia Nervosa. Previous work has demonstrated that the abnormal eating behavior of women with Bulimia Nervosa can be successfully studied in a laboratory setting and has produced evidence of a disturbance in the development of satiety in this syndrome. Preliminary work suggests that Binge Eating Disorder can also be profitably examined using techniques developed for the study of Bulimia Nervosa. In the work proposed, perceptual and cognitive aspects of the development of satiety will be examined in women with Bulimia Nervosa. In addition, definitive studies will be conducted to document the nature of the behavioral disturbances in obese individuals who report binge eating and to determine the similarity of these abnormalities to those of normal weight individuals with bulimia nervosa.
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