According to a new study, women with binge eating issues tend to focus their attention on their least favorite body parts, which may help understand why they express such unhappiness with their physical body. Additionally, the study also revealed that binge eaters spend more time looking at the body parts that they consider ugly than their more positive physical attributes. People who binge are more likely to report extreme dissatisfaction with their bodies than those who are overweight, but do not binge. Because of this, the researchers believe people who binge also put more emphasis and visual attention on the parts of their body that they don’t like, compared to people who do not binge.
German researchers studied the visual patterns of 18 overweight women who did not binge, and 26 women who had a history of binge eating. The test subjects were given pictures of strangers and of themselves and researchers measured their pupils as they watched the images. The pictures were taken from various angles, showing the subject and a control picture from the front, back, left and right. The participants were asked to pick out the most attractive and least attractive body part on each of the pictures while their visual response was gauged using a 240-Hz Eye-Link Eyetracker. Eye movements were measured for both frequency and duration on the most and least attractive body parts of each picture.
The researchers discovered that all of the participants, those who binged and those who did not, paid more attention to the least attractive body parts. However, they found that the binge eaters focused more intently and more frequently on the ugly body parts than the people who did not binge. Additionally, the binge eaters gazed at the ugly body parts of images of themselves more than the unattractive body parts of the control images. The researchers believe more studies are necessary to determine if bias toward ugly body parts increases binge eating behaviors, or is just a symptom of eating problems.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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