Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Donald A. Williamson


Individuals with binge eating disorder (BED) share some characteristics with persons with bulimia nervosa (BN) and some characteristics of obese persons who do not have problems with binge eating. Previous studies have found that while nonbinging individuals underestimate caloric intake, patients with BN overestimate caloric intake when intake is large. The present study hypothesized that because persons with BED binge eat, they would also overestimate caloric intake. A total of 56 women (9 with BED, 23 obese nonbingers, and 24 normal weight nonbingers) estimated several portion sizes of ice cream and then ate a test meal of ice cream and estimated how much they ate. All women underwent the experimental procedure during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle, which is associated with increased caloric and fat intake. BED participants ate significantly more than control participants, felt that the meal was a binge to a significantly greater extent, and felt significantly more out of control than control participants. However, contrary to expectations, the BED participants significantly underestimated, not overestimated, the caloric intake of their test meal. Also, regardless of diagnosis, accuracy of pre-meal estimates of calories significantly predicted accuracy of post-meal of calories estimates, and accuracy using cups was much less than accuracy using calories.