Eating disorders are serious psychiatric illnesses associated with health problems. Such problems may compromise military performance, highlighting the need to establish the level of eating pathology that exists in military samples. This article qualitatively reviews prevalence estimates of eating disorder symptoms and diagnoses in military samples, providing nonmilitary estimates for context. Findings suggest that eating disorder symptoms are prevalent in cadets and active duty service members, especially when using self-report measures. The increased salience of weight in the military and increased exposure to trauma may influence risk for eating disorders. Alternatively, individuals at risk for eating disorders may self-select into the military. Overall, this review suggests that eating disorder symptoms are common in military samples and that further research is warranted.
eating disorder symptoms; eating disorders; military; purging; risk factors; veterans
The current study sought to compare different features of unhealthy exercise on associations with disordered eating and their ability to identify individuals with eating disorders. A secondary aim of the study was to compare prevalence and overlap of different aspects of unhealthy exercise and potential differences in their gender distribution.
Cross-sectional epidemiological study.
A community-based sample of men (n=592) and women (n=1468) completed surveys of health and eating patterns, including questions regarding exercise habits and eating disorder symptoms.
Compulsive and compensatory features of exercise were the best predictors of disordered eating and eating disorder diagnoses compared to exercise that was excessive in quantity. Further, compulsive and compensatory aspects of unhealthy exercise represented overlapping, yet distinct qualities in both men and women.
Including the compulsive quality among the defining features of unhealthy exercise may improve identification of eating disorders, particularly in men. Results suggest that the compensatory aspect of unhealthy exercise is not adequately captured by the compulsive aspect of unhealthy exercise. Thus, interventions that target unhealthy exercise behaviors among high-risk individuals, such as athletes, may benefit from addressing both the compulsive and compensatory aspects of unhealthy exercise. Future prospective longitudinal studies will aid in determining the direction of the association between these features of unhealthy exercise and the onset of eating pathology.
unhealthy exercise; disordered eating; eating disorders; exercise; men
A substantial body of research supports comorbidity between eating and anxiety disorders, and articles in this special section explore the nature of this association using severity different research designs. This commentary reviews findings from these articles included, focusing on inferences that may be drawn from each design. Collectively, articles support the need for future studies to examine whether eating and anxiety disorders share underlying mechanisms. If identified, such mechanisms could create opportunities for transdiagnostic interventions that ameliorate suffering from both eating and anxiety disorders
The present study sought to identify psychological factors that predict onset and maintenance of eating disorders. Secondary analyses were conducted using data from an epidemiological study of health and eating behaviors in men and women (N=1320; 72% female) to examine the prospective and independent influence of the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI) Perfectionism, Interpersonal Distrust, and Maturity Fears subscales in predicting the onset and maintenance of eating disorders at 10-year follow-up. Multivariate models indicated higher Perfectionism (p=.025), lower Interpersonal Distrust (p<.001), and higher Maturity Fears (p=.037) predicted increased risk for eating disorder onset at 10-year follow-up, but only Perfectionism (p=.004) predicted eating disorder maintenance. Differential prediction of eating disorder onset versus maintenance highlights potentially different psychological foci for prevention versus treatment efforts.
longitudinal; eating disorders; onset; maintenance
Although anorexia nervosa has a high mortality rate, our understanding of the timing and predictors of mortality in eating disorders is limited. The authors investigated mortality in a long-term study of patients with eating disorders.
Beginning in 1987, 246 treatment-seeking women with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa were interviewed every 6 months for a median of 9.5 years to obtain weekly ratings of eating disorder symptoms, comorbidity, treatment participation, and psychosocial functioning. From January 2007 to December 2010 (median follow-up of 20 years), vital status was ascertained with a National Death Index search.
Sixteen deaths (6.5%) were recorded (lifetime anorexia nervosa, N=14; bulimia nervosa with no history of anorexia nervosa, N=2). The standardized mortality ratio was 4.37 [95% CI=2.4-7.3] for lifetime anorexia nervosa and 2.33 [95% CI=0.3-8.4] for bulimia nervosa with no history of anorexia nervosa. Risk of premature death among women with lifetime anorexia nervosa peaked within the first 10 years of follow-up resulting in a standardized mortality ratio of 7.7 [95% CI=3.7-14.2]. The standardized mortality ratio varied by duration of illness and was 3.2 [95% CI=0.9-8.3] for women with lifetime anorexia nervosa for 0-15 years (4/119 died), and 6.6 [95% CI=3.2-12.1] for women with lifetime anorexia nervosa for >15-30 years (10/67 died). Multivariate predictors of mortality included alcohol abuse (p<0.0001), low body mass index (p=0.0005), and poor social adjustment (p=0.0090).
These findings highlight the need for early identification and intervention and suggest that a long duration of illness, substance abuse, low weight, and/or poor psychosocial functioning raise the risk for mortality in anorexia nervosa.
Eating disorders are serious psychiatric illnesses with high levels of suicidality and high comorbidity. However, no study has established the extent to which suicidality is uniquely associated with eating disorders rather than attributable to comorbid mood, anxiety, or substance use disorders. The current study examined whether unique associations between eating disorders and suicidality exist and whether potential associations differ by eating disorder diagnosis.
Participants were women (n=364) from the second stage of a large epidemiological study examining eating and health related attitudes and behaviors. The Structured Clinical Interview for Axis I diagnoses (SCID-I) was used to determine lifetime psychiatric diagnoses and lifetime suicidality.
A multiple regression model including eating and comorbid disorders indicated that bulimia nervosa (BN) was significantly associated with suicidality above and beyond risk predicted by comorbid disorders. No unique association was found for anorexia nervosa (AN) or eating disorder not otherwise specified while controlling for comorbidity.
BN is independently associated with suicidality, and findings emphasize the need to incorporate suicide risk assessment in standardized assessments of eating disorders.
eating disorders; suicidality; bulimia nervosa; anorexia nervosa; suicide; risk factors
Negative urgency (i.e., the tendency to engage in rash action in response to negative affect) has emerged as a critical personality trait contributing to individual differences in binge eating. However, studies investigating the extent to which genetic and/or environmental influences underlie the effects of negative urgency on binge eating are lacking. Moreover, it remains unclear whether negative urgency-binge eating associations are simply due to the well-established role of negative affect in the development/maintenance of binge eating. The current study addresses these gaps by examining phenotypic and etiologic associations between negative urgency, negative affect, and dysregulated eating (i.e., binge eating, emotional eating) in a sample of 222 same-sex female twin pairs from the Michigan State Twin Registry. Negative urgency was significantly associated with both dysregulated eating symptoms, even after controlling for the effects of negative affect. Genetic factors accounted for the majority (62–77%) of this phenotypic association, although a significant proportion of this genetic covariation was due to genetic influences in common with negative affect. Non-shared environmental factors accounted for a relatively smaller (23–38%) proportion of the association, but these non-shared environmental effects were independent of negative affect. Findings suggest that the presence of emotion-based rash action, combined with high levels of negative affect, may significantly increase genetic risk for dysregulated eating.
binge eating; emotional eating; impulsivity; negative urgency; negative affect; twin study
Associations between within-person changes in ovarian hormones and dysregulated eating (binge eating, emotional eating) have been observed across the menstrual cycle. However, studies have not examined moderators that may contribute to differential associations between individuals. We investigated body-weight regulation variables (body mass index (BMI), dietary restraint) that have theoretical relevance by virtue of their associations with both phenotypes.
Women (N = 196) provided emotional eating ratings and saliva samples for 45 days. BMI and restraint were assessed at three time-points and averaged.
Results showed significant estradiol × progesterone interactions in the prediction of within-subject changes in emotional eating. Neither BMI nor restraint moderated these relationships, although a trend-level dietary restraint × estradiol interaction was observed where estradiol’s effects were enhanced in high restraint scorers.
Findings confirm a role for hormones in changes in emotional eating and suggest that restraint might enhance hormone effects in severe groups.
Within-person changes in estradiol and progesterone predict changes in
binge eating tendencies across the menstrual cycle. However, all women have
menstrual-cycle fluctuations in hormones, but few experience binge eating.
Personality traits may be critical individual difference factors that influence
who will engage in emotional eating in the presence of a vulnerable hormonal
environment. Women (N=239) provided self-reports of emotional eating and saliva
samples for hormone measurement for 45 consecutive days. Negative urgency and
negative emotionality were measured once and were examined as moderators of
hormone-emotional eating associations. Consistent with prior research,
within-person changes in the interaction between estradiol and progesterone
predicted emotional eating. Neither negative urgency nor negative emotionality
interacted with changes in estradiol and progesterone to predict changes in
emotional eating. Additional factors, other than the two personality traits
examined, may account for individual differences in within-person associations
between hormones and emotional eating.
ovarian hormones; personality; negative urgency; eating disorders; emotional eating
Proposed DSM-5 severity dimensions reveal ambiguity regarding the extent to which certain features define boundaries between similar diagnoses or represent underlying dimensions within a broader category of bulimic syndromes. The current study utilized a novel mixed modeling approach that can simultaneously model latent dimensions and latent categories to address this ambiguity.
Data from structured clinical interviews in 528 adult participants were analyzed.
A 3-class solution with one severity dimension that was invariant across groups provided the best-fitting model. Both latent classes 1 and 2 included bulimic syndromes but were distinguished by greater purging and weight phobia in latent class 1. Latent class 3 resembled a non-eating disorder class. External validation analyses supported significant differences among empirically derived groups.
Weight phobia contributes to categorical distinctiveness among bulimic syndromes whereas other features (purging, binge eating, and weight) may do so only in specific combinations. Uniform severity criteria may be appropriate across bulimic syndromes.
bulimia nervosa; eating disorder not otherwise specified; factor mixture analysis; nosology
Studies suggest that within-person changes in estrogen and progesterone predict changes in binge eating across the menstrual cycle. However, samples have been extremely small (maximum N = 9), and analyses have not examined the interactive effects of hormones that are critical for changes in food intake in animals. The aims of the current study were to examine ovarian hormone interactions in the prediction of within-subject changes in emotional eating in the largest sample of women to date (N = 196). Participants provided daily ratings of emotional eating and saliva samples for hormone measurement for 45 consecutive days. Results confirmed that changes in ovarian hormones predict changes in emotional eating across the menstrual cycle, with a significant estradiol x progesterone interaction. Emotional eating scores were highest during the mid-luteal phase, when progesterone peaks and estradiol demonstrates a secondary peak. Findings extend previous work by highlighting significant interactions between estrogen and progesterone that explain mid-luteal increases in emotional eating. Future work should explore mechanisms (e.g., gene-hormone interactions) that contribute to both within- and between-subject differences in emotional eating.
Excessive diet soda intake is common in eating disorders. The present study examined factors contributing to excessive intake in a sample of individuals with lifetime eating disorders based on proposed DSM-5 criteria (n=240) and non-eating disorder controls (n=157). Individuals with eating disorders, particularly bulimia nervosa, consumed more diet soda than controls. Eating disorder symptoms that reflect increased appetitive drive or increased weight concerns were associated with increased diet soda intake. Increased weight concerns were associated with increased diet soda intake when levels of appetitive drive were high, but not when they were low. Results highlight the importance of monitoring diet soda intake in individuals with eating disorders and may have implications for the maintenance of dysregulated taste reward processing in BN.
Research supports both concurrent and prospective associations between peer behaviors and disordered eating levels in late adolescent and young adult men and women. However, no study has examined peer influence after a follow-up duration over which peer groups change dramatically. This study examined how college roommates’ dieting predicted disordered eating levels in women (n=566) and men (n=233) at 10-year follow-up. For women, college roommate dieting significantly predicted Drive for Thinness, Bulimia scores, and purging at 10-year follow-up. Findings highlight the potential for school-based, peer-led interventions to have long-term benefits in women.
peers; longitudinal; disordered eating
Current research on the etiology of thin-ideal internalization focuses on psychosocial influences (e.g., media exposure). The possibility that genetic influences also account for variance in thin-ideal internalization has never been directly examined. This study used a twin design to estimate genetic effects on thin-ideal internalization and examine if environmental influences are primarily shared or nonshared in origin.
Participants were 343 post-pubertal female twins (ages 12–22; M=17.61) from the Michigan State University Twin Registry. Thin-ideal internalization was assessed using the Sociocultural Attitudes toward Appearance Questionniare-3.
Twin modeling suggested significant additive genetic and nonshared environmental influences on thin-ideal internalization. Shared environmental influences were small and non-significant.
Although prior research focused on psychosocial factors, genetic influences on thin-ideal internalization were significant and moderate in magnitude. Research is needed to investigate possible interplay between genetic and nonshared environmental factors in the development of thin-ideal internalization.
Thin-ideal; internalization; body image; disordered eating; twin study; heritability; Tripartite Model
We studied the relation between intrusive and repetitive hair-pulling, the defining feature of trichotillomania, and compulsive and impulsive features in 1453 individuals with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. We conducted a series of regression models examining the relative influence of compulsive features associated with obsessive compulsive disorder; compulsive features associated with eating disorders; trait features related to harm avoidance, perfectionism and novelty seeking; and self harm. A final model with a reduced sample (n=928) examined the additional contribution of impulsive attributes. One out of 20 individuals endorsed hair-pulling. Evidence of a positive association with endorsement of compulsive behavior of the obsessive compulsive spectrum emerged. Hair-pulling may be more consonant with ritualistic compulsions than impulsive urges in those with eating disorders.
eating disorders; trichotillomania; hair-pulling; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; impulsivity; compulsivity
Converging evidence suggests a role for the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in the pathophysiology of anorexia nervosa (AN). This study sought to determine whether ACC volume was affected by starvation in active AN and, if so, whether this had any clinical significance.
Eighteen patients with active AN and age- and gender-matched normal controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Sixteen patients (89%) with AN had intelligence quotients (IQ) testing at intake, 14 (78%) had repeat MRIs after weight normalization, and 10 (56%) had outcome data at 1-year post-hospitalization.
Right dorsal ACC volume was significantly reduced in active AN patients versus controls and was correlated with lower performance IQ. While ACC normalization occurred with weight restoration, smaller change in right dorsal ACC volume prospectively predicted relapse after treatment.
Reduced right dorsal ACC volume during active AN relates to deficits in perceptual organization and conceptual reasoning. The degree of right dorsal ACC normalization during treatment is related to outcome.
dorsal anterior cingulate; ACC; anorexia nervosa; AN; starvation; weight restoration; cognitive function; performance IQ; MRI
We examined changes in drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, and dietary restraint across the menstrual cycle and associations between these symptoms and ovarian hormones in two independent samples of women (N = 10 and 8 women, respectively) drawn from the community.
Daily self-report measures of disordered eating and negative affect were completed for 35–65 days. Daily saliva samples were assayed for estradiol and progesterone in Study 2 only.
Levels of body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness were highest during the mid-luteal/pre-menstrual phases in both studies and were negatively associated with estradiol, and positively associated with progesterone. By contrast, dietary restraint showed less variation across the menstrual cycle and weaker associations with ovarian hormones.
Differential associations between ovarian hormones and specific disordered eating symptoms point to distinct etiological processes within the broader construct of disordered eating.
estradiol; progesterone; ovarian hormones; menstrual cycle; eating disorders; disordered eating; drive for thinness; body dissatisfaction; dietary restraint
Previous research has found concurrent and prospective associations between negative mood and body dissatisfaction; however, only experimental research can establish causal relationships. This study utilized an experimental design to examine the influence of negative mood on body dissatisfaction. Undergraduate women were randomly assigned to an experimental or control condition. Participants in the experimental condition (n = 21) completed a negative mood induction procedure. Participants in the control condition (n = 24) completed a neutral mood procedure. All participants completed visual analogue scales regarding their mood and satisfaction with weight and shape before and after each manipulation. Body dissatisfaction increased following the procedure for experimental but not control participants, suggesting that negative mood caused increased body dissatisfaction. In cultures that idealize thinness, body dissatisfaction may arise from funneling general feelings of dysphoria into more concrete and culturally meaningful negative feelings about the body.
body image; experiment; negative affect; undergraduate women
Personality traits are known to be associated with a host of important life outcomes, including interpersonal dysfunction. The interpersonal circumplex offers a comprehensive system for articulating the kinds of interpersonal problems associated with personality traits. In the current study, traits as measured by the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ) in a sample of 124 young women were correlated with interpersonal dysfunction as measured by the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems-Circumplex. Results suggest that MPQ traits vary in their associations with interpersonal distress and in their coverage of specific kinds of interpersonal difficulties among women undergoing the transition to adulthood.
Binge eating has been associated with increased hunger, suggesting a role for impaired appetite regulation. Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) is ideally suited to examine whether hunger is a precipitant of binge eating but results from such studies have not been systematically reviewed. This study provides a meta-analysis of EMA studies that have examined hunger as an antecedent of binge eating.
Electronic database and manual searches produced seven EMA studies with N=180 participants. Meta-analyses were conducted to compare: 1) pre-binge eating hunger to average ratings of hunger, and 2) pre-binge eating hunger to hunger before regular eating.
Across studies, hunger was significantly greater prior to binge eating compared to average hunger ratings, but was significantly lower prior to binge eating compared to before other eating episodes.
Excessive hunger does not appear to be a precipitant of binge eating because higher levels of hunger are observed before regular eating episodes. However, lower hunger prior to food consumption may contribute to the experience of a particular eating episode as a binge.
binge eating; ecological momentary assessment; hunger
Elevated serum amylase levels in bulimia nervosa (BN), associated with increased salivary gland size and self-induced vomiting in some patients, provide a possible marker of symptom severity. The goal of this study was to assess whether serum hyperamylasemia in BN is more closely associated with binge eating episodes involving consumption of large amounts of food or with purging behavior.
Participants included women with BN (n=26); women with “purging disorder” (PD), a subtype of EDNOS characterized by recurrent purging in the absence of objectively large binge eating episodes (n=14); and healthy non-eating disorder female controls (n=32). There were no significant differences in age or body mass index (BMI) across groups. The clinical groups reported similar frequency of self-induced vomiting behavior and were free of psychotropic medications. Serum samples were obtained after overnight fast and were assayed for alpha-amylase by enzymatic method.
Serum amylase levels were significantly elevated in BN (60.7 ± 25.4 international units [IU]/liter, mean ± sd) in comparison to PD (44.7 ± 17.1 IU/L, p < 02) and to Controls (49.3 ± 15.8, p < .05).
These findings provide evidence to suggest that it is recurrent binge eating involving large amounts of food, rather than self-induced vomiting, which contributes to elevated serum amylase values in BN.
bulimia nervosa; purging disorder; self-induced vomiting; binge eating; serum amylase; hyperamylasemia
Follow-up studies of eating disorders (EDs) suggest outcomes ranging from recovery to chronic illness or death, but predictors of outcome have not been consistently identified. We tested 5151 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in approximately 350 candidate genes for association with recovery from ED in 1878 women. Initial analyses focused on a strictly defined discovery cohort of women who were over age 25 years, carried a lifetime diagnosis of an ED, and for whom data were available regarding the presence (n=361 ongoing symptoms in the past year, ie, ‘ill') or absence (n=115 no symptoms in the past year, ie, ‘recovered') of ED symptoms. An intronic SNP (rs17536211) in GABRG1 showed the strongest statistical evidence of association (p=4.63 × 10−6, false discovery rate (FDR)=0.021, odds ratio (OR)=0.46). We replicated these findings in a more liberally defined cohort of women age 25 years or younger (n=464 ill, n=107 recovered; p=0.0336, OR=0.68; combined sample p=4.57 × 10−6, FDR=0.0049, OR=0.55). Enrichment analyses revealed that GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) SNPs were over-represented among SNPs associated at p<0.05 in both the discovery (Z=3.64, p=0.0003) and combined cohorts (Z=2.07, p=0.0388). In follow-up phenomic association analyses with a third independent cohort (n=154 ED cases, n=677 controls), rs17536211 was associated with trait anxiety (p=0.049), suggesting a possible mechanism through which this variant may influence ED outcome. These findings could provide new insights into the development of more effective interventions for the most treatment-resistant patients.
GABA; anorexia nervosa; recovery from eating disorders; genetic association; single nucleotide polymorphisms; eating/metabolic disorders; GABA; eating/metabolic disorders; neurogenetics; biological psychiatry; genetic association; anorexia nervosa; recovery from eating disorders; single-nucleotide polymorphisms; phenomic association
The affect regulation model of binge eating, which posits that patients binge eat to reduce negative affect (NA), has received support from cross-sectional and laboratory-based studies. Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) involves momentary ratings and repeated assessments over time and is ideally suited to identify temporal antecedents and consequences of binge eating. This meta-analytic review includes EMA studies of affect and binge eating. Electronic database and manual searches produced 36 EMA studies with N = 968 participants (89% Caucasian women). Meta-analyses examined changes in affect before and after binge eating using within-subjects standardized mean gain effect sizes (ES). Results supported greater NA preceding binge eating relative to average affect (ES = .63) and affect before regular eating (ES = .68). However, NA increased further following binge episodes (ES = .50). Preliminary findings suggested that NA decreased following purging in Bulimia Nervosa (ES = −.46). Moderators included diagnosis (with significantly greater elevations of NA prior to bingeing in Binge Eating Disorder compared to Bulimia Nervosa) and binge definition (with significantly smaller elevations of NA before binge versus regular eating episodes for the DSM definition compared to lay definitions of binge eating). Overall, results fail to support the affect regulation model of binge eating and challenge reductions in NA as a maintenance factor for binge eating. However, limitations of this literature include unidimensional analyses of NA and inadequate examination of affect during binge eating as binge eating may regulate only specific facets of affect or may reduce NA only during the episode.
binge eating; ecological momentary assessment; negative affect; bulimia nervosa
This analysis is a follow-up to an earlier investigation of 182 genes selected as likely candidate genetic variations conferring susceptibility to anorexia nervosa (AN). As those initial case-control results revealed no statistically significant differences in single nucleotide polymorphisms, herein we investigate alternative phenotypes associated with AN. In 1762 females using regression analyses we examined: (1) lowest illness-related attained body mass index; (2) age at menarche; (3) drive for thinness; (4) body dissatisfaction; (5) trait anxiety; (6) concern over mistakes; and (7) the anticipatory worry and pessimism vs. uninhibited optimism subscale of the harm avoidance scale. After controlling for multiple comparisons, no statistically significant results emerged. Although results must be viewed in the context of limitations of statistical power, the approach illustrates a means of potentially identifying genetic variants conferring susceptibility to AN because less complex phenotypes associated with AN are more proximal to the genotype and may be influenced by fewer genes.
covariates; eating disorders; association studies; personality; genetic
Ovarian hormones are associated with binge eating in women, however findings are limited by the lack of experimental control inherent in human studies. Animal research that manipulates ovarian hormone status and examines individual differences in extreme binge eating proneness are needed to model clinical phenotypes in humans and to confirm causal effects. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of adult ovariectomy on overall binge eating risk and extreme binge eating phenotypes using the binge eating resistant (BER)/ binge eating prone (BEP) rat model. We predicted that palatable food consumption would significantly increase after ovariectomy in all rats because ovarian hormones generally suppress food intake. If differences in responsiveness to ovarian hormones underlie BER/BEP phenotypes, then differences in binge eating between BER and BEP rats would be eliminated or diminished after ovariectomy. Changes in palatable food (PF) intake were compared in BER and BEP rats before and after ovariectomy in two samples of adult females. Findings were highly similar in the two samples. PF intake increased significantly following ovariectomy in all rats. However, BEP rats consistently consumed larger amounts of PF than BER rats, both before and after ovariectomy. The consistency of findings across two samples of rats provides strong support for activational effects of ovarian hormones on binge eating. However, the immunity of extreme binge eating phenotypes to ovarian hormone ablation suggests that other, earlier mechanisms (e.g., organizational hormone effects or hormone-independent effects) determine the expression of binge eating phenotypes.
binge eating; bulimia nervosa; ovariectomy; animal models; ovarian hormones