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Int J Eat Disord. 2019 Mar 18. doi: 10.1002/eat.23069. [Epub ahead of print]

The classification of eating disorders in China: A categorical model or a dimensional model.

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Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.



According to the ICD-10 and DSM-5, eating disorders (EDs) are classified using a categorical model that assumes the subtypes are qualitatively different from one another. However, it is still intensely debated that a dimensional model is more suitable. The aim of this study is to examine whether EDs have a categorical or dimensional latent structure using a sample of Chinese ED patients.


The sample included 322 patients, diagnosed with an ED from 2010 to 2017 in the Shanghai Mental Health Center, and comparison participants (N = 850), recruited from undergraduate students in one university in Shanghai. Participants were evaluated with the Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (EDI-2) questionnaire and another questionnaire developed by the researchers. Three taxometric procedures (MAXimum EIGenvalue [MAXEIG], latent-mode factor analysis [L-Mode], and Mean Above Minus Below A Cut [MAMBAC]) were applied, respectively, to analyze the patients' clinical symptoms data.


Patients were divided into three groups according to their clinical diagnosis. The plots of the three taxometric analysis procedures supported the categorical construct in anorexia nervosa, binge-eating/purging group, and bulimia nervosa group. The Comparison Curve Fit Indices of the MAXEIG, L-Mode, and MAMBAC procedures were 0.694, 0.709, 0.704 in the AN-BP group and 0.727, 0.67, 0.62 in the BN group, respectively, which also support the categorical construct.


The results support two distinct classes of ED subtypes among Chinese sample. Further work on applying hybrid model in analysis has been discussed.


anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; classification; eating disorder; taxometric analysis


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