Psychopathology in underweight and weight-recovered females with anorexia nervosa

Eat Weight Disord. 2009 Dec;14(4):e205-11. doi: 10.1007/BF03325118.


Objective: To compare general and eating disorder-specific psychopathology in patients with acute anorexia nervosa (acAN), weight-recovered patients (recAN) and healthy control women (HCW).

Methods: One hundred anorexia nervosa patients (66 acAN and 34 recAN) and 88 HCW were included in our study. Psychopathology was assessed by self-report questionnaires [Symptom Check List 90 Revised (SCL-90-R), Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (EDI- 2)] as well as by interview [Structured Interview of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimic Syndromes (SIAB-EX)] and compared using multivariate analysis of variance. Plasma leptin levels were determined using enzyme linked immunosorbent assay.

Results: Mean comparisons indicated highly significant differences between acAN and recAN subjects on all psychopatholgy variables, except for perfectionism. RecAN subjects did not differ from HCW. Partial weight recovery was associated with decreasing levels of psychopathology. Correlational analyses suggested strong negative associations between leptin levels and psychopathology.

Conclusion: Prolonged malnutrition, as indicated by suppressed plasma leptin levels, is strongly related to eating disorder-specific as well as general psychopathological symptoms. Weight recovery is associated with the absence of psychopathology. These data emphasize the interaction between somatic and psychological variables.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Weight*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Leptin / blood
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinness / psychology*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Leptin