Objective: Smoking has been reported as an appetite and weight control method in eating disorders; however, few studies have explored patterns of smoking across subtypes of eating disorders. The aim of this paper was to explore the patterns and prevalence of smoking behavior in 1,524 women from two of the multisite Price Foundation Genetic studies.
Method: Smoking behavior was assessed in 306 individuals with anorexia nervosa-restricting type (RAN), 186 with anorexia nervosa-purging type (PAN), 180 with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa (ANBN), 107 with anorexia nervosa-binging type (BAN), 71 individuals with purging type-bulimia nervosa (PBN), and 674 female community controls. We compared smoking prevalence and smoking behaviors across eating disorder (ED) subtypes and in comparison to controls using the Fagerstrom Test of Nicotine Dependence (FTND).
Results: Overall, women with eating disorders reported higher rates of smoking and greater nicotine dependence than controls. Women with binge/purge subtypes of eating disorders reported the highest rates of smoking of all of the subtypes. Smoking in eating disorders was related to impulsive personality traits.
Conclusions: Women with eating disorders appear to be at increased risk for smoking, particularly those who binge eat and/or purge and display impulsive personality characteristics. Given the high prevalence, the impact of ongoing smoking on maintenance of eating disorders symptoms is worthy of both clinical and research attention.