Published on Fri Aug 27 2021

Examining cognitive and behavioural symptoms across binge/purge profiles in adolescents with eating disorders.

Sarah J Egan, Breana H Hessing, Kimberley J Hoiles, Chloe Shu, Emily J Jones, Amy O'Brien, Katherine L Morgan-Lowes, Julie McCormack, Amy Lampard, Hunna J Watson

The aim was to determine whether cognitive and behavioural symptoms differed among purging profiles in 229 adolescent females (M age = 15.45) Adolescents with objective or subjective binge eating had significantly higher global eating disorder scores and eating, shape, and weight concerns.

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Abstract

Binge eating and purging profiles may vary in adolescents with eating disorders and this may potentially be a function of a range of cognitive and behavioural constructs. The aim was to determine whether cognitive and behavioural symptoms differed among purging profiles in 229 adolescent females (M age = 15.45). Differences were examined in three binge/purge profiles; (i) regular objective binge eating and purging (OBEP, n = 63), (ii) regular subjective binge eating and purging (SBEP, n = 41), and (iii) purging in the absence of any binge eating (P-noBE, n = 110). Adolescents with objective or subjective binge eating had significantly higher global eating disorder scores and eating, shape, and weight concerns than those without binge eating, but not more frequent compensatory behaviours. There were no significant differences on dietary restraint. The group with objective binge eating (OBEP) had significantly higher eating concerns and self-induced vomiting than adolescents with subjective binge eating (SBEP). Future research is required to understand the reasons for elevated symptoms in the OBE-P group, since the size of binge episodes is not thought to be a salient factor in binge eating. In contrast to the literature, we did not find support for a special relevance of dietary restraint to the purging only presentation (P-noBE), rather it was a universal characteristic of all binge/purge presentations. Eating concerns may be an important target in adolescents with objective binge symptoms. Future research should examine if treatment targeted at different binge/purge profiles improves efficacy of treatment in adolescents.