Identifying the Characteristics of Eating Disorders in a Community Sample

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Life Sciences | Nutrition | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Linda Shepherd, Nutrition; Richard Wielkiewicz, Psychology


Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) is a diagnosis category for those who do not meet all criteria for Anorexia or Bulimia and it is the most commonly diagnosed eating disorder in both clinical and community samples. The characteristics of those with the EDNOS diagnosis and the prevalence of EDNOS diagnoses may be a signal that the theory underlying diagnosis needs to be revised. An online survey, available via social networking sites, compared the characteristics of individuals with EDNOS to individuals with Anorexia and Bulimia to determine commonalities among the diagnostic groups, as well as issues with insurance coverage and treatment. An eating disorder severity index created from items in the survey was used to assess the variance in psychopathology among the diagnoses, as well as the body mass indexes. Results provided strong support for the transdiagnostic approach that suggests there is a core cognitive component to eating disorders and that the behavioral patterns displayed will migrate between restricting, binging and/or purging as the course of the disorder progresses.