“Weight suppression (WS) refers to the difference between highest past weight (since reaching adult height) and current weight,” said Michael R. Lowe of the Department of Psychology at Drexel University. “Because the average body mass index (BMI) of individuals with bulimia nervosa (BN) is in the normal weight range, this suggests that many individuals with BN were once overweight.” Lowe, who also works at the Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders in Philadelphia, knows that WS is linked to binge eating and believes that identifying WS could be a key to helping those suffering with BN achieve better treatment outcomes. Along with his colleagues, Lowe evaluated 246 women over nine years, interviewing them every six months. The women were given psychological evaluations, and weighed and measured at the onset of the study. At the conclusion, the team found that the women with higher WS took longer to achieve remission from their symptoms.
Lowe believes these findings contribute to a growing body of evidence supporting the link between WS and remission, and could also have critical clinical implications for improving treatment outcomes. “A central component of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is currently the most effective treatment for BN, is the introduction of a regular pattern of eating in which patients begin to eat three planned meals and two planned snacks each day. Patients who begin treatment with high levels of WS might find it more difficult to accomplish this goal without losing control of their eating or gaining weight,” said Lowe. He added, “The results of the current study imply that gathering weight history information from patients at the beginning of treatment may inform the therapist about the course of the disorder. Because highly weight-suppressed individuals may have more difficulty normalizing their eating patterns, knowledge of WS levels may allow for anticipation of this obstacle.”
Lowe, M. R., Berner, L. A., Swanson, S. A., Clark, V. L., Eddy, K. T., Franko, D. L., Shaw, J. A., Ross, S., & Herzog, D. B. (2011, October 17). Weight Suppression Predicts Time to Remission From Bulimia Nervosa. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025714
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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