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Keywords:

  • childhood;
  • gastrointestinal complications;
  • bulimia nervosa

Abstract

Objective

The current study describes childhood gastrointestinal (GI) complaints in adult women presenting for a treatment trial for bulimia nervosa (BN) and examines the correlates of BN symptomatology.

Method

The sample comprised 135 women with BN who underwent an assessment including questions regarding childhood GI complaints. Individuals were grouped into one of three categories: no GI complaints, GI complaints with/without constipation (GI complaints), and constipation only. Eating disorder psychopathology was compared across these groups.

Results

One third of participants reported GI complaints or constipation only in childhood. Women with GI complaints were younger, and had an earlier onset of BN and self-induced vomiting compared with women with no GI complaints. Trends existed for a younger age of first binge, and a higher frequency of binge eating in this group.

Discussion

These findings suggest that individuals with childhood GI complaints and other risk factors for BN may be at greater risk of developing a more severe eating disorder at an earlier age. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.