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Keywords:

  • bulimic symptoms;
  • social control;
  • longitudinal;
  • cohabitation;
  • eating problems;
  • bulimia

Abstract

Objective:

This current study examines the relationship between cohabitation and changes in bulimic symptoms in young adults.

Method:

A sample of 2601 initially noncohabitating adolescents was followed over a 5-year period and growth curve analyses were conducted.

Results:

Females who over the course of the study moved in with a partner had greater decreases in bulimic symptoms compared with female noncohabitators. This difference was highly significant, even if small in size. No such effect was found in males. When examining the frequency of bulimic behaviors in females, the most socially unacceptable bulimic behaviors were those most reduced by cohabitation, whereas less obtrusive bulimic behaviors were not reduced.

Conclusion:

The results give some indication that social control exercised in close relationships may account for decreased bulimic symptoms in female cohabitators. Further studies are needed to confirm the importance of social control and to examine how it affects symptom reduction. © 2006 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2006