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J Abnorm Psychol. 1996 Nov;105(4):508-17.

Restraint, dieting, and the continuum model of bulimia nervosa.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102, USA.


The authors evaluated the continuity model of bulimia nervosa, which suggests that bulimia results from extreme weight concern and dieting practices. Individuals with bulimia, current dieters, restrained nondieters, and unrestrained nondieters were compared on measures of general psychopathology, eating-disorder-specific psychopathology, and overeating. Multiple methods, including questionnaires, clinical interviews, and food records, were used to collect data. The continuity and discontinuity models were tested with trend and regression analyses. The results of most analyses were consistent with the continuity perspective. However, binge eating behaviour exhibited a clear nonlinear trend, which occurred because binge eating was common in bulimic individuals but virtually non-existent in the other 3 groups. Current dieters scored higher than restrained nondieters on restraint/ weight concern, but not on psychopathology or binge eating. Overall, the results suggest that "normal" dieting is associated with psychological, but not consummatory, symptoms of bulimia.

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