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Body Image Distortion in Bulimia Nervosa

  • Sandra A. Birtchnell (a1), J. Hubert Lacey (a2) and Anne Harte (a3)

Abstract

Body image perception was measured in 50 women with bulima nervosa and 19 age and weight matched female controls, using a visual size estimation apparatus. Both groups overestimated body widths, but not the width of a neutral object, and whilst there was a trend for bulimics to overestimate more than controls this did not reach significance. The part of the body most overestimated corresponded to the part most disliked in only a third of both groups. The bulimics without a previous history of anorexia nervosa overestimated body width more than those with such a history; this may be related to the fact that the former had a significantly greater weight index. Bulimics who were within 5% of mean-matched population weight overestimated body width less than the others, this difference reaching significance when compared with the heavier groups; a similar, but non-significant, trend was demonstrated in controls. This may be linked to a greater dissatisfaction with body size. Duration of illness, frequency of bingeing and self-induced vomiting were not shown significantly to alter body size estimation. The bulimics who completed a 10-session outpatient treatment programme subsequently demonstrated a significant decrease in overestimation of waist and hip width.

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Body Image Distortion in Bulimia Nervosa

  • Sandra A. Birtchnell (a1), J. Hubert Lacey (a2) and Anne Harte (a3)
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