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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Mar;18(3):499-504. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.280. Epub 2009 Aug 27.

Significance of overvaluation of shape/weight in binge-eating disorder: comparative study with overweight and bulimia nervosa.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


Increasing empirical evidence supports the validity of binge-eating disorder (BED) and its inclusion as a formal diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Contention exists regarding the criteria for BED, including whether, like bulimia nervosa (BN), it should be characterized by overvaluation of shape/weight. This study examined the significance of overvaluation for BED using two complementary comparisons groups. Participants were 324 women who completed self-report instruments as part of an Internet study. Analyses compared BMI, eating disorder (ED) features, and depressive levels in four groups: 123 overweight participants without ED, 47 BED participants who do not overvalue shape/weight, 101 BED participants who overvalue shape/weight, and 53 BN participants. Both BED groups had significantly greater ED psychopathology than the overweight group. Within BED, the group with overvaluation had significantly greater ED psychopathology and depressive levels despite no differences in binge eating. BED with overvaluation and BN groups differed little from each other but had significantly higher ED psychopathology and depressive levels than the other groups. Group differences existed despite similar age and BMI across the groups, as well as when controlling for group differences in depressive levels. These findings provide further support for the validity of BED and suggest that overvaluation of shape/weight, which provides important information about BED severity, warrants consideration as either a diagnostic specifier or as a dimensional severity rating. Although inclusion of overvaluation of shape/weight could be considered as a required criterion for BED, this would exclude a substantial proportion of BED patients with clinically significant problems.

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