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Can J Psychiatry. 1995 Oct;40(8):445-56.

Views on classification and diagnosis of eating disorders.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Ontario.



To highlight developments in the taxonomy of eating disorders since Russell's original description of bulimia nervosa (BN) in 1979 and through 3 versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.


Criteria for anorexia nervosa (AN), BN and binge eating disorder (BED) are systematically described.


While criteria for AN remain largely unchanged between DSM-III-R and DSM-IV, the subclassification of binge/purge and restricter subgroups endorses previous research findings. For BN, the definition of "binge" has occupied considerable attention both in quantitative and qualitative terms. The arbitrary choice of 2 episodes per week as a minimum frequency is also discussed in light of recent data from the Ontario Health Supplement. A third eating disorder, BED, is now included in the appendix of DSM-IV under Eating Disorders--Not Otherwise Specified category. The potential overlap between this disorder and nonpurging BN is discussed. Finally, the relationship between eating disorders and other psychiatric disorders including depression, schizophrenia, obsessional, and conversion disorders is considered as well as the continuum from preoccupation with weight to eating disorder.


While significant advances have been made in understanding and classifying eating disorders during the past 15 years, further empirical work is necessary to clarify areas of uncertainty.

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