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Keywords:

  • bulimia nervosa;
  • classification;
  • functional impairment

Abstract

Objective and Method:

To inform the classification of bulimic-type eating disorders not meeting formal diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa (BN), levels of eating disorder psychopathology and functional impairment associated with subjective and objective bulimic episodes (SBEs and OBEs) and purging and nonpurging methods of weight control were examined in a large community-based sample of women (n = 5,232).

Results:

Participants who reported recurrent bulimic episodes had significantly higher levels of eating disorder psychopathology and functional impairment than those who did not and this was the case whether the episodes were objective or subjective. Similarly, participants who reported the use of extreme weight control behaviors had higher levels of eating disorder psychopathology and functional impairment than those who did not, and this was the case whether purging or nonpurging behaviors were employed. The combination of bulimic episodes and extreme weight control behaviors was associated with particularly high levels of eating disorder psychopathology and functional impairment.

Conclusion:

The combination of bulimic episodes, objective or subjective, and extreme weight control behaviors, purging or nonpurging, is significant in terms of impairment in psychosocial functioning among individuals affected by eating disorders not meeting formal diagnostic criteria for BN. The combination of SBEs and extreme weight control behaviors, in particular, warrants further investigation. © 2006 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2006.