King's College London

Research portal

Bad Things Come to Those Who Do Not Wait: Temporal Discounting Is Associated With Compulsive Overeating, Eating Disorder Psychopathology and Food Addiction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number978
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Published22 Jan 2020

King's Authors


The tendency to act on immediate pleasure-driven desires, due to the devaluation of future rewards [a process known as temporal discounting (TD)], has been associated with substance use disorders (SUD) and with conditions characterised by compulsive overeating. The study involved a large inclusive participant sample (i.e., no diagnostic or exclusion criteria were applied). They were recruited/assessed online and we investigated whether TD was related to compulsive overeating and associated problems. Participants [N = 432, (48 males)] completed an online survey, which included a hypothetical monetary TD task, the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire (EDE-Q), the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS). TD correlated with frequency of compulsive overeating and compensatory behaviours, with eating disorder psychopathology, with scores on the YFAS, and with body mass index (BMI). As our study shows that elevated rates of TD are associated with a range of behaviours/measures, we propose that it is more likely that elevated TD rates are a predisposing factor rather than a consequence of the behaviour, i.e., elevated rates of TD contribute to pathological eating-related behaviours; however, a bi-directional explanation is also possible. Future research should investigate whether interventions aimed at reducing TD have clinical potential for treating problematic eating behaviours.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454