May 31, 2009 Jeanne Rust

New Research on Differences Between Women With and Without Eating Disorders

The wonderful newsletter that edreferral publishes every month had some very interesting new research on the differences between women with and without eating disorders. Responses to 25 questions about body image, eating, self-esteem, general psychology were collected in 2002-2003 (N=268) and 2005-2006 (N=472). Wilk's lambda was used to test discrimination.

The most discriminating psychological questions were:

  • feeling unhappy and unable to cope as well as usual
  • unease attending social functions
  • fearing loss of control over emotions
The most discriminating eating questions were:
  • feeling uneasy if other people saw you eating
  • feeling preoccupied with food/eating
  • fearing loss of control over eating

For body image only "feeling preoccupied with body weight/shape" and "fearing loss of control over your body" discriminated. Questions relating to weight and shape for self-esteem ("feeling fat", "fearing weight gain" and "wanting to lose weight") discriminated poorly.

Results for both cohorts were consistent. Preoccupation with thoughts of eating or body image and fear of loss of control of these would be useful additions to eating disorders criteria. Psychological impairment should also be present. (Source: Eating and Weight Disorders: Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity).