Evaluation of a healthy-weight treatment program for bulimia nervosa : a preliminary randomized trial
Burton, Emily Weisner
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The role of dieting in the etiology and maintenance of bulimia nervosa remains unclear, and current treatments, which primarily aim to eliminate dieting behaviors, demonstrate limited efficacy. The purpose of this study was to conduct a randomized treatment trial to test whether healthy dieting maintains bulimic symptoms or effectively reduces this eating disturbance. Female participants (N=85) with full and subthreshold bulimia nervosa were randomly assigned to a 6-session healthy dieting intervention or waitlist condition and assessed through 3-month follow-up. Relative to control participants, intervention participants showed modest weight loss during treatment and demonstrated significant improvements in bulimic symptoms that persisted through follow-up. These preliminary results suggest that this intervention shows potential for the treatment for bulimia nervosa and may be worthy of future refinement and evaluation. Results also provide experimental evidence that dieting behaviors do not maintain bulimia nervosa, suggesting the need to reconsider maintenance models for this eating disorder.