Support for the Continuity Hypothesis of Bulimic Pathology

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There has been debate as to whether bulimia represents the endpoint of an eating disorder continuum (the continuity hypothesis) or is categorically different from subthreshold bulimia or an absence of eating disorders (the discontinuity hypothesis). The present study tested whether differences among bulimic, subthreshold bulimic, and control women on weight-concern and psychopathology variables better accord with the continuity or discontinuity hypothesis. These 3 groups were compared on body mass, thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and temperamental emotionality. Discriminant function analysis and follow-up pairwise contrasts indicated that the continuity hypothesis was supported for measures of both weight concern and psychopathology. Research and treatment implications of the continuity perspective are discussed.

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