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Keywords:

  • eating patterns;
  • abstinence;
  • bulimia nervosa

Abstract

Objective

The current study sought to determine whether there is an optimal pattern of eating leading to cessation of binge eating and purging in bulimic women.

Method

Data on the number of meals and snacks consumed were obtained from the Eating Disorders Examination (EDE) pretreatment and posttreatment, for individuals participating in a randomized controlled study comparing cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. Records were available for 158 participants.

Results

The numbers of meals and snacks eaten from pretreatment to posttreatment increased significantly. A pattern of eating with at least 80 meals combined with at least 21 afternoon snacks within a 28-day period was associated with an abstinence rate of 70%. In contrast, for subjects having 72–80 meals, those having greater than 11 evening snacks have an abstinence rate of 4%.

Conclusion

The critical elements of the pattern of eating related to abstinence appear to be the total number of meals consumed and the timing of snacks. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.