The Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIScience) recently held a public event in Toronto exploring the science behind dieting and healthy eating. The event entitled, “New Year New You: The Science of Healthy Eating,” featured a panel discussion with four scientists with diverse expertise in nutrition, psychology, and science communication.
Included in this panel was Dr. Lindsay Bodell, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Western University and 2019 Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award recipient. Dr. Bodell gave an engaging talk, outlining some of the psychological and biological perspectives that lead to eating disorders, and explaining how weight suppression is a risk factor.
Dr. Bodell received a 2019 Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award to study negative affect and reward processing in individuals with binge eating. Binge eating is defined by consuming a large amount of food over a short time period and feeling out of control while eating. This behavior is a key feature of eating disorders, affects approximately 10% of the population, and is associated with significant distress and impairment.
It is critical to understand what causes individuals to binge eat, so we can improve treatments and reduce the negative health consequences of this persistent behavior. Although evidence suggests that negative affect leads to binge eating, little is known about why this association exists, limiting our ability to target the key processes involved for prevention and intervention.
Dr. Bodell’s research team is currently examining how negative affect impacts motivation to eat and how individual differences in brain responses to different mood states affect this relationship.