The role of loss of control eating in purging disorder


  • Supported by R01 MH61836, R03 MH61320, and F31 MH085456 from National Institute of Mental Health.



Purging Disorder (PD), an Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (APA, 2013), is characterized by recurrent purging in the absence of binge eating. Though objectively large binge episodes are not present, individuals with PD may experience a loss of control (LOC) while eating a normal or small amounts of food. The present study sought to examine the role of LOC eating in PD using archival data from 101 women with PD.


Participants completed diagnostic interviews and self-report questionnaires. Analyses examined the relationship between LOC eating and eating disorder features, psychopathology, personality traits, and impairment in bivariate models and then in multivariate models controlling for purging frequency, age, and body mass index.


Across bivariate and multivariate models, LOC eating frequency was associated with greater disinhibition around food, hunger, depressive symptoms, negative urgency, distress, and impairment.


LOC eating is a clinically significant feature of PD and should be considered in future definitions of PD. Future research should examine whether LOC eating better represents a dimension of severity in PD or a specifier that may impact treatment response or course. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:244–251)