Patterns of weight change after treatment for bulimia nervosa

Authors

  • Frances A. Carter,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand
    • Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine, P.O. Box 4345, Christchurch, New Zealand
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  • Virginia V.W. McIntosh,

    1. Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand
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  • Peter R. Joyce,

    1. Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand
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  • Kelly A. Gendall,

    1. Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand
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  • Christopher M.A. Frampton,

    1. Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand
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  • Cynthia M. Bulik

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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Abstract

Objective

The current study examined changes in weight and body mass index (BMI) at 5-year follow-up among women treated for bulimia nervosa.

Method

The study comprised 80 women who had participated in a randomized clinical trial evaluating cognitive-behavior therapy for bulimia nervosa. The women had attended assessments at posttreatment and at 5-year follow-up while not pregnant.

Results

Changes in mean weight and BMI between posttreatment and 5-year follow-up were small in absolute terms and were not statistically significant. However, by the 5-year follow-up, approximately one half of the participants had either lost (31%) or gained (18%) 5 or more kilograms or were underweight (31%) or overweight (24%) as defined by BMI. Univariate analyses suggest that it is the patients who gain weight over the follow-up that are distinctive. Patients who gained weight over the follow-up were more likely to have commenced menstruation at a younger age, to have a lifetime history of being heavier, and to have been heavier and more dissatisfied with their body at pretreatment, posttreatment, and at 5-year follow-up.

Conclusion

Five years after treatment for bulimia nervosa, approximately one half of the participants had changed substantially in weight. For those who had changed, weight loss was more common than weight gain. © 2004 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 36: 12–21, 2004.

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