Depressive Symptoms and Binge Eating in Children: Examining Symptom Specificity in a Population-based Sample of Male and Female Children
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binge eating
sex differences
eating disorders


Introduction: Binge eating and compensatory behaviors have significant adverse health implications and are understudied among children. Studies have shown overlap between depressive symptoms and binge eating and compensatory behaviors, but little research has examined sex differences in depressive symptom specificity and binge eating and compensatory behaviors. The present study examined the associations between depressive symptoms and binge eating and compensatory behaviors among male and female children. Methods: Population-based data of 6,975 children ages 9 – 10 years and their caregivers from the multisite Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study were analyzed. The Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (K-SADS) was utilized to measure binge eating, compensatory behavior, and depressive symptoms. Results: There was an association between presence of anhedonia with increased likelihood of binge eating among females and males. There were no significant associations between individual depressive symptoms and compensatory symptoms among females or males. Lifetime DSM-5 major depressive disorder was associated with binge eating in males and females and compensatory behaviors in females. Discussion: This study provides new knowledge of the specificity of the association between depressive symptoms and binge eating in female compared to male children. Anhedonia may be a key clinical target to reducing binge eating in female and male children.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Tyler B. Mason, Diana Zhang, Diana Castillo, Rachel Dayag, Kathy Lam, Jeremy C. Morales, Kathryn E. Smith