Body image, depression and eating behaviour: a comparative study in eating disordered women and healthy controls
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OBJECTIVE The aim of this study is to compare eating behaviours, body image, and depressive symptoms in eating disordered women with a demographically matched healthy control sample to evaluate the predictors of eating behaviour. METHODS 150 women (75 in the Eating Disorders Group-EDG and 75 in Healthy Control Group-HCG) participated in the study. All participants completed the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Photographic Figure Rating Scale for Women (PFRS). Body Mass Index (BMI) was also measured. RESULTS HCG significantly differed from EDG in all study variables except body dissatisfaction. Positive correlations were found between EDE-Q and its subscales, PFRS, BDI, and BMI. Excluding body image distortion, the study variables together explained 49.1% of the variance in EDE-Q total scores, with body dissatisfaction being the most powerful after controlling for group differences. CONCLUSION Women with EDs suffer more disordered eating behaviour, stronger depression symptoms, and lower BMI more than their healthy counterparts, although these factors are quite common in healthy women too. Body dissatisfaction, which is an important predictor of eating problems, is also equally prevalent in healthy controls. Finally, healthy women tend to underestimate their body size, which can be a protective factor against EDs.