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Physiol Behav. 1994 Nov;56(5):969-73.

Elevated sweet taste pleasantness ratings in bulimia nervosa.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, MA 02215.


Recent studies suggest that some patients with bulimia nervosa may experience elevated pleasantness responses to sweet taste. This study explored possible associations between symptoms patterns and pleasantness ratings for sucrose solutions in bulimic patients. Subjects included 15 women meeting DSM III-R criteria for narrowly defined bulimia nervosa (no history of other eating disorder); five patients with current bulimia nervosa and a past history of anorexia nervosa; and 20 healthy age-matched female controls. Subjects ate a standardized breakfast prior to the morning study visit. Sucrose-water solutions (0% to 40% sucrose) were rated for sweetness intensity and pleasantness. Patients with narrowly defined bulimia nervosa showed significantly higher pleasantness ratings for 40% sucrose solutions than controls and patients with a history of anorexia nervosa. Pleasantness ratings were not significantly correlated with frequency of binge eating or purging behaviors. These results extend previous evidence for altered sweet taste pleasantness responses in bulimia nervosa, and for differences in eating-related behaviors between patients with narrowly defined bulimia nervosa vs. those with past anorexia nervosa.

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