Study proposes anorexia and bulimia could have same psychopathological core
March 31, 2005

University of Naples psychologists suggest that anorexia and bulimia may have the same psychopathological core.

"We screened a sample of 259 female students, aged 17-20 years old by means of the Eating Disorder Inventory 2 (EDI 2) and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28). Those students identified to be at risk for an eating disorder underwent a semi-structured interview to provide a diagnosis according to DSM-IV criteria. We also considered the prevalence of 'not full-blown diagnosis,'" said P. Cotrufo and colleagues.

"We found two cases of full-syndrome (0.77%), both bulimics; 9 partial-syndrome bulimia nervosa (3.47%); and 1 of partial-syndrome binge eating disorder (0.38%). Moreover, 18 (6.94%) girls met the criteria for subclinical-syndrome, of which the majority was subclinical anorexia (5.79%)."

"We did not find statistically relevant differences between the anorexic and the bulimic samples on the psychological characteristics measured by the EDI 2 subscales," the researchers said.

They wrote, "These findings suggest the hypothesis that anorexia and bulimia could have the same psychopathological core and bulimia could be considered as a 'failed' anorexia."

Cotrufo and coauthors published their study in the Journal of Adolescence (Brief report: Psychological characteristics of less severe forms of eating disorders: an epidemiological study among 259 female adolescents. J Adolescence, 2005;28(1):147-154).

For additional information, contact P. Cotrufo, University of Naples, SUN, Dept. of Psychology, Via Vivaldi 43, I-81100 Caserta, Italy.

The publisher's contact information for the Journal of Adolescence is: Academic Press Ltd. Elsevier Science Ltd., 24-28 Oval Rd., London NW1 7DX, England.