Satiation deficits and binge eating: Probing differences between bulimia nervosa and purging disorder using an ad lib test meal

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Purging disorder (PD) has been included as a named condition within the DSM-5 category of Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder and differs from bulimia nervosa (BN) in the absence of binge-eating episodes. The current study evaluated satiation through behavioral and self-report measures to understand how this construct may explain distinct symptom presentations for bulimia nervosa (BN) and purging disorder (PD). Women (N = 119) were recruited from the community if they met DSM-5 criteria for BN (n = 57), PD (n = 31), or were free of eating pathology (n = 31 controls). Participants completed structured clinical interviews and questionnaires and an ad lib test meal during which they provided reports of subjective states. Significant group differences were found on self-reported symptoms, ad lib test meal intake, and subjective responses to food intake between individuals with eating disorders and controls and between BN and PD. Further, ad lib intake was associated with self-reported frequency and size of binge episodes. In a multivariable model, the amount of food consumed during binges as reported during clinical interviews predicted amount of food consumed during the ad lib test meal, controlling for other binge-related variables. Satiation deficits distinguish BN from PD and appear to be specifically linked to the size of binge episodes. Future work should expand exploration of physiological bases of these differences to contribute to novel interventions.

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