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Binge Eating, Urine Free Cortisol, and Metabolic Characteristics in Children and Adolescents

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Technical Report

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Uniformed Services University Of The Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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Overweight youth are likely to exhibit disordered eating pathology, specifically binge eatingbehaviors. Preliminary research indicates that binge eating and associated psychopathology inyouth are associated with components of the metabolic syndrome. While metabolic dysfunctionis inherently tied to obesity, some preliminary studies have found that binge eating andpsychological stress are independently associated with metabolic dysfunction. This studyexplored the relationship between binge eating and metabolic dysfunction, and the potentialmediating role of cortisol among children and adolescents. Participants were 396 overweight andnon-overweight youth between the ages of 5 and 18 years. Children with binge eating hadsignificantly greater total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, waist circumference, insulin resistanceand insulin levels than children without binge eating ps .05. However, BMI-z standarddeviations of BMI based on CDC growth charts accounted for most of the results. There wereno significant differences in HDL, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels among individuals without without binge eating ps .05. Among adolescents, relationships existed between urine freecortisol and LDL cholesterol, even after adjusting for BMI-z, age, sex, and race ps .05.Binge eating was unrelated to cortisol. We conclude that binge eating in youth may be related tometabolic dysfunction, but these associations are primarily accounted for by the links that bingeeating has with body weight. Given the prevalence of binge eating among children, longitudinalresearch is warranted to examine whether childrens binge eating exerts a unique effect onmetabolic characteristics beyond its effects on weight gain.

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