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Behav Cogn Psychother. 2014 Jan;42(1):65-73. doi: 10.1017/S1352465812000914. Epub 2012 Nov 9.

Body-related behaviours and cognitions in the eating disorders.

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Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, and Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, UK.



Different body-related behaviours and cognitions (checking, avoidance, comparison, display) have been shown to be related to unhealthy eating attitudes in a non-clinical sample.


This study tested whether the use of body-related behaviours is higher in eating-disordered women than in non-clinical women. It also examined whether the use of body-related behaviours is associated with psychological characteristics (particularly anxiety, depression and narcissistic characteristics), controlling for age and eating pathology.


Ninety-nine adult women with diagnosed eating disorders (mean age = 30.4 years, SD = 9.44; mean body mass index = 21.9, SD = 6.39) completed standardized measures of eating pathology, anxiety and depression, narcissistic characteristics, and body-related behaviours and cognitions.


The Body-Related Behaviours Scale (BRBS) had acceptable levels of internal consistency in this group, and its scales were only weakly to moderately correlated with each other. There were no differences between diagnostic groups, but the clinical group had higher scores that a previous non-clinical sample on three of the scales. The four body-related behaviours had different patterns of association with eating pathology, depression and narcissistic features. However, anxiety was not associated with BRBS scores.


The findings support the importance of a wide range of body-related behaviours and cognitions in understanding the eating disorders. However, the lack of an association with anxiety is counter to the suggestion that the various behaviours measured by the BRBS reflect safety behaviours on the part of sufferers. Depression and narcissistic features might be more important in maintaining such behaviours.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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