Bulimia, dietary restraint, and concern for dieting

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The concept of dietary restraint has recently been used to explain binge-eating in dieters. It has been proposed that the violation of various restraint rules typically leads to hinging in individuals exhibiting high dietary restraint. This study examined the role of dietary restraint in a clinical sample of bulimics. After eating a preload to break dietary restraint, bulimic binge-eaters (those who binge but do not purge) were found to eat significantly more than bulimics who binged and purged (bulimia nervosa) and significantly more than normals. In addition, purging bulimics were found to have more concern about dieting than binge-eaters, while normals were found to have less concern about dieting and less anxiety about eating than both bulimic groups. These data suggest that the psychopathology of bulimia nervosa and bulimia (binge-eating) may be substantially different. It was proposed that the most distinguishing characteristic may be the preoccupation with dieting, weight, and body size, which is more extreme in bulimia nervosa.