Background: Although a wealth of studies have tested the link between negative mood states and likelihood of a subsequent binge eating episode, the assumption that this relationship follows a typical linear dose-response pattern (i.e., that risk of a binge episode increases in proportion to level of negative mood) has not been challenged. The present study demonstrates the applicability of an alternative, non-linear conceptualization of this relationship, in which the strength of association between negative mood and probability of a binge episode increases above a threshold value for the mood variable relative to the slope below this threshold value (threshold dose response model).Methods: A sample of 93 women aged 18 to 40 completed an online survey at random intervals seven times per day for a period of one week. Participants self-reported their current mood state and whether they had recently engaged in an eating episode symptomatic of a binge.Results: As hypothesized, the threshold approach was a better predictor than the linear dose-response modeling of likelihood of a binge episode. The superiority of the threshold approach was found even at low levels of negative mood (3 out of 10, with higher scores reflecting more negative mood). Additionally, severity of negative mood beyond this threshold value appears to be useful for predicting time to onset of a binge episode.Conclusions: Present findings suggest that simple dose-response formulations for the association between negative mood and onset of binge episodes miss vital aspects of this relationship. Most notably, the impact of mood on binge eating appears to depend on whether a threshold value of negative mood has been breached, and elevation in mood beyond this point may be useful for clinicians and researchers to identify time to onset.
- Binge eating
- Experience sampling
- Intensive longitudinal design
- Negative mood
- Threshold modeling