Examining weight suppression as a predictor of eating disorder symptom trajectories in anorexia nervosa

Lindsay P Bodell, Sarah E Racine, Jennifer E Wildes
International Journal of Eating Disorders 2016, 49 (8): 753-63

OBJECTIVE: Research in individuals with bulimia nervosa has highlighted the clinical significance of weight suppression (WS), defined as the difference between one's highest and current weight. More recently, studies have suggested that WS also may play a role in symptom maintenance and weight gain during treatment in anorexia nervosa (AN) and that the influence of WS on AN outcomes may depend on an individual's body mass index (BMI). However, no study has investigated whether WS or the interaction between WS and BMI is associated with the longer-term course of eating pathology following treatment discharge in patients with AN.

METHOD: The current study examined a sample of females with AN (N = 180) who completed interviews and self-report questionnaires at discharge from intensive treatment and at 3, 6, and 12-months after discharge. Latent growth curve models tested whether WS, BMI, or the WS by BMI interaction significantly predicted the trajectory of eating disorder symptoms (i.e., Eating Disorder Examination global score, BMI, frequency of loss of control eating, frequency of purging) over the year following discharge.

RESULTS: WS at discharge predicted change in BMI, and the interaction between WS and BMI predicted growth in eating disorder severity and purging frequency over time. Neither WS nor its interaction with BMI predicted growth in loss of control eating frequency.

DISCUSSION: Results provide further support for the clinical significance of WS in AN symptom maintenance, but suggest that the influence of WS likely depends on an individual's BMI as well as the outcome being measured. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.(Int J Eat Disord 2016; 49:753-763).

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