Real-time predictors and consequences of binge eating among adults with type 1 diabetes

Ashley A. Moskovich, Natalia O. Dmitrieva, Michael A. Babyak, Patrick J. Smith, Lisa K. Honeycutt, Jan Mooney, Rhonda M. Merwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Objective binge eating (OBE) is common among individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and may have negative consequences for glycemic control. Recent studies have suggested that diabetes distress (i.e., emotional distress specific to diabetes and living with the burden of management) is a distinct emotional experience among individuals with diabetes. Preliminary studies have found diabetes distress is associated with eating disorder symptoms and poor glycemic control. The aim of the current study was to examine real-time emotional precursors and consequences of OBE in adults with T1D (i.e., general negative affect, specific emotional states and diabetes distress) using ecological momentary assessment methods. We also explore the impact of OBE on 2-h postprandial glycemic control relative to non-OBE eating episodes. Methods: Adults with T1D (N = 83) completed 3-days of ecological momentary assessment assessing mood and eating behavior using a telephone-based survey system. Participants were prompted to rate momentary affect, including level diabetes distress, at random intervals and reported on eating episodes. Participants also wore continuous glucose monitors allowing for ongoing assessment of glycemic control. Multi-level modeling was used to examine between- and within-person effects of momentary increases in emotions prior to eating on the likelihood of OBE and the impact of OBE on postprandial blood glucose. Generalized linear mixed models examined whether change in post-meal affect differed between OBE and non-OBE episodes. Results: Participants were predominately middle-aged (Mean = 42; SD = 12.43) Caucasian (87%) females (88%) reporting clinically significant eating disorder symptoms (76%). Nearly half of the sample (43%) reported OBE during the 3-day study period. The between-person effect for negative affect was significant (OR = 1.93, p <.05), indicating a 93% increased risk of OBE among individuals with higher negative affect compared to individuals with average negative affect. Between-person effects were also significant for guilt, frustration and diabetes distress (OR = 1.48-1.77, ps <.05). Analyses indicated that mean change in post-meal negative affect was significantly greater for OBE relative to non-OBE episodes (B = 0.44, p <.001). Blood glucose at 120 min postprandial was also higher for OBE than for non-OBE episodes (p =.03). Conclusions: Findings indicate that individuals who tend to experience negative affect and diabetes distress before eating are at increased risk of OBE at the upcoming meal. Results also suggest that engaging in binge eating may result in greater subsequent negative affect, including diabetes distress, and lead to elevated postprandial blood glucose levels. These findings add to a growing literature suggesting diabetes distress is related to eating disordered behaviors among individuals with T1D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 18 2019


  • Binge eating
  • EMA
  • Eating disorders
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Type 1 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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