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Sex Differences in Eating Disorder Psychopathology

Int J Eat Disord; ePub 2018 Sep 7; Zayas, Wang, et al

Results of a recent study demonstrate that Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM‐5) severity specifiers may function differently for males vs females with bulimia nervosa (BN). Taken together, data suggest DSM‐5 severity specifiers may not adequately capture severity, as intended, for males with BN and all with anorexia nervosa (AN). Researchers tested whether eating-disorder (ED) psychopathology differed across DSM‐5 severity specifiers among 532 adults (76% female) in a residential treatment center with AN or BN. They hypothesized that severity of ED psychopathology would increase in tandem with increasing severity classifications for both males and females with AN and BN. They found:

  • Among females with BN, DSM‐5 severity categories were significantly associated with increasing ED psychopathology, including Eating Disorder Examination‐Questionnaire dietary restraint, eating concern, shape concern, and weight concern; and Eating Disorder Inventory drive for thinness and bulimia.
  • ED psychopathology did not differ across DSM‐5 severity levels for males with BN.
  • For both males and females with AN, there were no differences in ED psychopathology across severity levels.


Zayas LV, Wang SB, Coniglio K, et al. Gender differences in eating disorder psychopathology across DSM‐5 severity categories of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. [Published online ahead of print September 7, 2018]. Int J Eat Disord. doi:10.1002/eat.22941.

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