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Overvaluation of body shape/weight and engagement in non-compensatory weight-control behaviors in eating disorders: is there a reciprocal relationship?

  • N. Tabri (a1) (a2), H. B. Murray (a1), J. J. Thomas (a1) (a2), D. L. Franko (a1) (a3), D. B. Herzog (a2) and K. T. Eddy (a1) (a2)...

Abstract

Background.

Overvaluation of body shape/weight is thought to be the core psychopathology underlying eating disorders, which propels engagement in non-compensatory weight-control behaviors. In turn, these behaviors lead to binge eating and/or maintenance of low weight thereby reinforcing overvaluation. The present study investigated the reciprocal relationship between overvaluation and engagement in non-compensatory weight-control behaviors (defined in two ways: restrictive eating and compulsive exercise) among women diagnosed with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa (N = 237).

Method.

Participants completed clinical interviews in which weekly eating disorder symptoms and behaviors were assessed over 2 years.

Results.

Overvaluation on a given week was associated with greater engagement in non-compensatory weight-control behaviors during the following week. Further, engagement in non-compensatory weight-control behaviors on a given week was associated with greater overvaluation during the following week. These findings held true regardless of participants’ shape/weight concerns (feelings of fatness and fat phobia), and eating disorder diagnosis.

Conclusions.

Our data provide empirical support for key aspects of the transdiagnostic cognitive-behavioral model of eating disorders and suggest that targeting non-compensatory weight-control behaviors in treatment may help alleviate overvaluation and shape/weight concerns.

Copyright

Corresponding author

* Address for correspondence: Dr K. T. Eddy, Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 2 Longfellow Place, suite 200, Boston, MA 02114, USA. (Email: keddy@mgh.harvard.edu)

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Keywords

Overvaluation of body shape/weight and engagement in non-compensatory weight-control behaviors in eating disorders: is there a reciprocal relationship?

  • N. Tabri (a1) (a2), H. B. Murray (a1), J. J. Thomas (a1) (a2), D. L. Franko (a1) (a3), D. B. Herzog (a2) and K. T. Eddy (a1) (a2)...

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