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

  • Tabri N
  • Murray H
  • Thomas J
 et al. 
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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.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • body image
  • bulimia nervosa
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • eating disorders

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Authors

  • N. Tabri

  • H. B. Murray

  • J. J. Thomas

  • D. L. Franko

  • D. B. Herzog

  • K. T. Eddy

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