Comparison Between Weight-Preoccupied Women and Anorexia Nervosa

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Abstract

Psychological traits of patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) were compared to those of weight-preoccupied (WP) and not-weight-preoccupied (NWP ) women drawn from samples of college and ballet students. Weight-preoccupied subjects were selected on the basis of extreme scores on the Drive for Thinness subscale of the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI ). Results indicated that the WP and AN groups were best differentiated by Ineffectiveness, Interpersonal Distrust, and lack of Interoceptive Awareness subscales. Using cluster analysis procedures, weight preoccupied women were divided into two subgroups. Cluster One was characterized by elevated scores on all EDI subscales indicating significant psychopathology. Cluster Two had elevated scores only on Drive for Thinness, Body Dissatisfaction, and Perfectionism and could be described as “normal dieters.” These findings were interpreted as indicating that, although there are some highly weight-preoccupied females who display psychopathology quite similar to anorexia nervosa, others only superficially resemble patients suffering from serious eating disorders. These results underscore the importance of a multidimensional evaluation of psychopathology in those suspected of anorexia nervosa.

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