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Objective. To investigate assumptions and beliefs in anorexia nervosa and dieting.

Design and method. The Eating Disorder Belief Questionnaire (EDBQ), was administered to patients with anorexia nervosa, dieters and female controls.

Results. The patients scored more highly than the other two groups on assumptions about weight and shape, assumptions about eating and negative self-beliefs. The dieters scored more highly than the female controls on assumptions about weight and shape.

Conclusions. The cognitive content of anorexia nervosa (both assumptions and negative self-beliefs) differs from that found in dieting. Assumptions about weight and shape may also distinguish dieters from female controls.