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Cheat meals: a benign or ominous variant of binge eating behavior?


Murray, SB and Pila, E and Mond, JM and Mitchison, D and Blashill, AJ and Sabiston, CM and Griffiths, S, Cheat meals: a benign or ominous variant of binge eating behavior?, Appetite, 130 pp. 274-278. ISSN 0195-6663 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.appet.2018.08.026


Objective: Engagement in "cheat meals" has been recently documented as a socially endorsed dietary practice oriented towards pursuing physique ideals, and which bears qualitative semblance to disordered eating behavior. However, the clinical significance of this dietary practice remains unclear.

Methods: We recruited a sample of young adults (n = 248; 56% women; Mage = 19.29 0.58) and examined the prevalence and characteristics of cheat meal engagement, including its associations with eating disorder pathology, psychological distress, and impairment in role functioning.

Results: Findings revealed that 89.1% of participants engaged in cheat meal consumption that was either planned or spontaneous, with planned cheat meals being predominantly aimed at managing food cravings and sustaining strict dietary regimens. Among men, the frequency of cheat meal engagement was positively associated with global eating disorder symptoms (p = 0.04), and objective binge episodes (p = 0.03), however cheat meals were not associated with psychological distress or clinical impairment for either gender (p > 0.05).

Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest that cheat meal engagement is commonly endorsed among young adults, and particularly among men. Moreover, cheat meals may reflect psychopathological properties akin to binge episodes, although do not confer psychological distress. Future research is urged in elucidating the definitional properties of cheat meal engagement, and examining clinical implications for this widespread dietary practice.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:cheat meal, binge eating, muscularity-oriented disordered eating, eating behaviours
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Health education and promotion
UTAS Author:Mond, JM (Dr Jon Mond)
ID Code:130351
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2019-01-22
Last Modified:2019-04-01

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