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Keywords:

  • eating disorders;
  • latent class analysis;
  • bulimia nervosa;
  • purging;
  • binge eating disorder

Abstract

Objective:

To investigate whether clusters of bulimic symptoms exist in a community sample of young Portuguese women.

Method:

A total of 2028 females, aged 12–23 years, completed the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q). Latent class analysis was applied to the seven bulimic symptoms, age, and body mass index.

Results:

The selected 4-class solution yielded a “healthy” class, reporting minimal binge eating and purging behaviors. A “binge eating” class, resembled binge eating disorder. A “purging” class had infrequent binge eating, but frequent compensatory behaviors. Finally, in a “classic bulimia nervosa” class, binge eating episodes were reported by 95% of participants, and compensatory behaviors were frequently endorsed. EDE -Q global and subscale scores differed across all latent classes.

Conclusion:

In the community, three natural patterns exist: binge eating plus compensatory behaviors, binge eating only, and purging in the absence of binge eating. These results have implications for future revisions of eating disorders nosology. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord, 2008