In: Current Psychiatry Reports
Purpose of review: Binge eating is a transdiagnostic symptom that disproportionately affects females. Sexually dimorphic gonadal hormones (e.g., estradiol, testosterone) substantially impact eating behavior and may contribute to sex differences in binge eating. We examine recent evidence for the role of gonadal hormones in binge eating risk across development.
Recent findings: Both organizational (long-lasting impact on the central nervous system (CNS)) and activational (transient influences on the CNS) hormone effects may contribute to sex differences in binge eating. Gonadal hormones also impact within-sex variability in binge eating, with higher estradiol levels in females and higher testosterone levels in males protective across development. Emerging evidence suggests that the impact of gonadal hormones may be greatest for people with other risk factors, including genetic, temperamental (e.g., high negative affect), and psychosocial (e.g., exposure to weight-based teasing) risk. Gonadal hormones contribute to sex differences and within-sex variability in binge eating across development.