Persistence of binge-eating patterns after a history of restriction with intermittent bouts of refeeding on palatable food in rats: Implications for bulimia nervosa

Academic Article


  • Objective: To test the hypothesis that experience with food restriction produces persistent binge eating. The Minnesota semistarvation experiment and studies of prisoners-of-war show that chronic food restriction produces dramatic changes in eating behavior (including binge eating) that endure decades after restriction has ceased. Bulimia nervosa patients who restrict also binge. Restriction may be a risk factor in the etiology of binge eating and bulimia. Method: Animals were subjected to four different patterns of 12- week restriction-refeeding cycles. The rats were either food restricted (dieting) or not restricted and refed regular or palatable food (hinging). Results: Thirty days after normalization (full feeding, no restriction cycling), rats with a history of cycles of restriction and hyperphagia continued to exhibit persistent binge eating. This effect was shown particularly with palatable food, in sated conditions, and in response to acute 24-hr deprivation. Discussion: Results from this animal model implicate restriction and overeating on palatable food as biological determinants of binge-eating behaviors, including bulimia nervosa.
  • Authors

    Author List

  • Hagan MM; Moss DE
  • Start Page

  • 411
  • End Page

  • 420
  • Volume

  • 22
  • Issue

  • 4