January 1989

Eating Behavior of Women With Bulimia

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University (Drs Walsh and Kissileff and Ms Dantzic) and the Obesity Research Center, St Luke's—Roosevelt Hospital (Dr Kissileff and Ms Cassidy), New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1989;46(1):54-58. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1989.01810010056008

• To obtain objective information about binge- and nonbinge-eating behavior, 12 women with bulimia and ten women without eating problems (controls) were asked to eat four meals in a structured laboratory setting, on separate nonconsecutive days. The same instructions were given to both groups. On two days, they were asked to eat a normal amount, and on two days, they were asked to eat as much as they could, ie, to binge. For each type of instruction, they were given a single- and a multiple-course meal. The patients ate significantly more than the controls when asked to binge, both on the multiple-course meals that they rated as typical of binges and on the single-course meals. When they were asked to eat normally, there was no significant difference in intake between patients and controls on either single- or multiple-course meals. After all meals, hunger ratings of patients were significantly higher than hunger ratings of controls. There was also a significant positive correlation between intakes of single- and multiple-course binge meals and an inverse correlation between intake of multiple-course binge meals in bulimic patients and their rating of how well they controlled their eating. Thus, a structured laboratory eating situation can be used to reveal differences between bulimic and normal individuals and has the potential for assessing clinical status and exploring mechanisms responsible for binge eating.