• body shape;
  • body image;
  • body image disturbance



Eating disorders(ED) have been classically associated with a concern about body shape and size that manifests mainly as an intense fear of weight gain (DSM-IV criteria). To further examine the nature of the body image disturbance in ED, we surveyed the prevalence of nonweight-related body image concerns among ED patients and nonclinical controls.


We examined 53 women (M ± SD age: 28.1 ± 6.8 years) with anorexia nervosa and/or bulimia nervosa (DSM-III-R criteria) and 73 randomly selected nonclinical women (M ± SD age: 30.2 ± 6.6 years) from the community. The participants rated (by checking a “Yes” or “No”) whether they were satisfied with the appearance of the following body regions: their skin, teeth, jaw, nose, eyes, ears, hair, and height and completed the Drive for Thinness (DT) and Body Dissatisfaction (BD) subscales of the Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI).


The frequencies of dissatisfaction with the appearance of various physical attributes among the ED patients versus the nonclinical controls were as follows: skin: 79.2% vs. 52.1%, p = .002; teeth: 62.3% vs. 39.7%, p = .012; jaw: 24.5% vs. 9.7%, p = .026; nose: 45.3% vs. 24.7%, p = .015; eyes: 22.6% vs. 12.3%, p = .12; ears: 20.8% vs. 2.7%, p = .001; hair: 52.8% vs. 39.7%, p = .14; and height: 28.3% vs. 13.7%, p = .04. As expected, the M ± SD DT (EDI): 14.0 ± 6.1 vs.3.5 ± 4.6, p < .0001 and the M ± SD BD (EDI): 19.7 ± 5.8 vs. 10.1 ± 7.3, p < .0001, were both higher in the ED group. Furthermore, greater dissatisfaction with nonweight-related body image was associated with higher DT and BD scores.


The higher prevalence of dissatisfaction with appearance of most of the nonweight-related physical attributes is probably an indication of the core ego deficits that are often present in ED and an index of the severity of the overall body image disturbance in these patients, and not indicative of another condition (e.g., body dysmorphic disorder) as the current nosology (DSM-IV) suggests. © 2000 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 27: 304–309, 2000.