Motives for eating tasty foods associated with binge-eating. Results from a student and a weight-loss seeking population

M. M. Boggiano, E. E. Burgess, B. Turan, T. Soleymani, S. Daniel, L. D. Vinson, K. L. Lokken, B. C. Wingo, A. Morse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to use the Palatable Eating Motives Scale (PEMS) to determine if and what motives for eating tasty foods (e.g., junk food, fast food, and desserts) are associated with binge-eating in two diverse populations. BMI and scores on the PEMS, Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS), and Binge-eating Scale (BES) were obtained from 247 undergraduates at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and 249 weight-loss seeking patients at the UAB EatRight program. Regression analyses revealed that eating tasty foods to forget worries and problems and help alleviate negative feelings (i.e., the 4-item Coping motive) was associated with binge-eating independently of any variance in BES scores due to sex, age, ethnicity, BMI, other PEMS motives, and YFAS scores in both students (R2 = .57) and patients (R2 = .55). Coping also was associated with higher BMI in students (p < 0.01), and in patients despite their truncated BMI range (p < 0.05). Among students, the motives Conformity and Reward Enhancement were also independently associated with binge-eating. For this younger sample with a greater range of BES scores, eating for these motives, but not for Social ones, may indicate early maladaptive eating habits that could later develop into disorders characterized by binge-eating if predisposing factors are present. Thus, identifying one's tasty food motive or motives can potentially be used to thwart the development of BED and obesity, especially if the motive is Coping. Identifying one's PEMS motives should also help personalize conventional treatments for binge-eating and obesity toward improved outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-166
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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