Elevated pre-morbid weights in bulimic individuals are usually surpassed post-morbidly: implications for perpetuation of the disorder

Int J Eat Disord. 2012 May;45(4):512-23. doi: 10.1002/eat.20985. Epub 2012 Jan 24.


Objective: To determine how often patients diagnosed with bulimia nervosa (BN) surpass their highest pre-morbid weight during the course of their disorder.

Method: The weight histories of individuals with BN were determined using retrospective weight data (Study 1) and combined retrospective/prospective data (Study 2).

Results: Retrospective analyses indicated that 59.0% (n = 46) and 61.8% (n = 110), respectively, reported that their highest weight was reached after developing BN. In Study 2, 35.3% of participants superseded their highest pre-enrollment weights during 8 years of follow-up, and 71.6% reached a post-morbid highest weight before remission. Across studies, the primary difference between patients who did and did not reach their highest weight post-morbidly was that those who did had an earlier age of onset and longer duration of BN.

Discussion: Findings are discussed in terms of possible links between BN and weight-gain proneness, weight fluctuation across the course of BN, and implications for treating BN.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology
  • Bulimia Nervosa / therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome