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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAlbany: Overvaluing Weight or Shape May Increase Severity of Functional Impairment Among Persons with BED

Binge-eating-disorder (BED) — defined as eating a large quantity of food in a short period of time with a loss of control at least once a week for three months — was added to the most recent diagnostic manual for mental disorders (DSM-5) in 2013. Similar to anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, many individuals with BED reports elevated concerns over body shape or weight, but overvaluation of weight or shape is not part of diagnostic questions in BED. To understand clinical utility of this particular symptom, recently published work in Obesity by a research team including Dr. Tomoko Udo investigated the clinical utility of weight/shape overvaluation.

Based on 207 adults from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, the study compared sociodemographic characteristics, psychosocial impairment due to BED, and quality of life.

Roughly half of those with BED reported overvaluation. This overvaluation was associated with greater severity of BED, as those participants reported more impairment in normal activities and problems getting along with others. In addition, those who had overvaluation were more likely to report having serious problems doing things that they were supposed to do.

These findings suggest that reporting overvaluation may signal more severe BED symptoms. In addition, overvaluation may be a useful specifier to help with treatment; those who show overvaluation may be more responsive to treatment that addresses their body image.

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