Emotion and eating disorder symptoms in patients with anorexia nervosa: An experimental study


  • Supported by R01 MH082685 and K01 MH080020 from the National Institute of Mental Health.



To evaluate the effect of negative emotion on self-reported eating disorder symptoms and objectively-measured eating behavior in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN).


Twenty-eight females with AN were randomized to a negative or neutral mood induction followed by a test meal. Participants completed assessments one week before the experimental session, before (pretest) and after (posttest) the mood induction, and after the test meal.


Participants in the negative emotion condition had an increase in negative affect from pretest to posttest that was accompanied by significantly greater increases in self-reported eating disorder symptoms than were exhibited by participants in the neutral emotion condition, who had no increase in negative affect. There was no effect of emotion condition on eating behavior.


Results suggest that negative emotions influence the expression of cognitive eating disorder symptoms in individuals with AN, which may have implications for the identification of treatment targets. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012;45:876–882)