New research found individuals with impulsive tendencies are more likely to binge eat.
The study determined the more impulsive someone was, the more likely they were to "eat their feelings," Michigan State University reported.
"It's human nature to want to turn to something for comfort after a bad day, but what our research found is that the tendency to act rashly when faced with negative emotions is a personality trait that can lead to binge eating," said Kelly Klump, professor of psychology at Michigan State University and senior author.
To make their findings, the researchers looked at 612 female twins, 14 percent of whom struggled with binge eating, overeating, or loss of control over eating. The team determined individuals who struggled with these types of eating problems also tended to experience higher levels of "negative urgency," or a tendency to act impulsively when they experienced negative emotions than those who did not struggle with control over their eating habits.
"Both overeating and feeling out of control when eating small or normal amounts of food were related to rash action when experiencing negative emotions," said Sarah Racine, assistant professor of psychology at Ohio University and lead author on the research.
Despite the fact that negative urgency was prevalent in both those who purposely overate and those who lost control of their eating, the researchers believe different factors are the drivers of these two problems.
"It is possible that relationships between binge eating and negative urgency reflect impairments in behavioral control over eating when upset," Racine said. "Overeating may instead represent increased sensitivity to rewarding effects of food in the context of negative emotions."
The researchers believe these new findings could help improve the treatment of eating disorders in the future.
"If we can treat the underlying tendency to jump to eating when feeling negative emotions like stress, we may be able to help thousands of individuals who suffer from a range of eating disorders," Klump concluded.
The findings were published in a recent edition of the International Journal of Eating Disorders.