Memory Versus Perception of Body Size in Patients with Anorexia Nervosa and Healthy Controls

Authors

  • Maria Øverås,

    Corresponding author
    1. Regional Unit for Eating Disorders (RASP), Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, Oslo, Norway
    • Correspondence: Maria Øverås, Regional Unit for Eating Disorders (RASP), Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, Pb 4950 Nydalen, 0424 Oslo, Norway. Tel: +47 95963797; Fax: +47 2301623.

      Email: maria.overas@ous-hf.no

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  • Hilde Kapstad,

    1. Regional Unit for Eating Disorders (RASP), Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, Oslo, Norway
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  • Cathrine Brunborg,

    1. Unit of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, Oslo, Norway
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  • Nils Inge Landrø,

    1. Department of Psychology, Center for the Study of Human Cognition, Blindern, Oslo, Norway
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  • Bryan Lask

    1. Regional Unit for Eating Disorders (RASP), Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, Oslo, Norway
    2. Care UK, London, UK
    3. Gt Ormond St Hosp for Children, London, UK
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Abstract

The objective of this study was to compare body size estimation based on memory versus perception, in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) and healthy controls, adjusting for possible confounders. Seventy-one women (AN: 37, controls: 35), aged 14–29 years, were assessed with a computerized body size estimation morphing program. Information was gathered on depression, anxiety, time since last meal, weight and height. Results showed that patients overestimated their body size significantly more than controls, both in the memory and perception condition. Further, patients overestimated their body size significantly more when estimation was based on perception than memory. When controlling for anxiety, the difference between patients and controls no longer reached significance. None of the other confounders contributed significantly to the model. The results suggest that anxiety plays a role in overestimation of body size in AN. This finding might inform treatment, suggesting that more focus should be aimed at the underlying anxiety. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.

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