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J Abnorm Psychol. 2008 May;117(2):414-9. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.117.2.414.

Overvaluation of shape and weight in binge eating disorder and overweight controls: refinement of a diagnostic construct.

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Department of Psychology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Debate continues regarding the nosological status of binge eating disorder (BED) as a diagnosis as opposed to simply reflecting a useful marker for psychopathology. Contention also exists regarding the specific criteria for the BED diagnosis, including whether, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, it should be characterized by overvaluation of shape/weight. The authors compared features of eating disorders, psychological distress, and weight among overweight BED participants who overvalue their shape/weight (n=92), BED participants with subclinical levels of overvaluation (n=73), and participants in an overweight comparison group without BED (n=45). BED participants categorized with clinical overvaluation reported greater eating-related psychopathology and depression levels than those with subclinical overvaluation. Both BED groups reported greater overall eating pathology and depression levels than the overweight comparison group. Group differences existed despite similar levels of overweight across the 3 groups, as well as when controlling for group differences in depression levels. These findings provide further support for the research diagnostic construct and make a case for the importance of shape/weight overvaluation as a diagnostic specifier.

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