Calming Fears of Gaining Excess Weight after Recovery

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
January/February Volume 27, Number 1
©2016 iaedp

Often patients recovering from an eating disorder predict they will become obese over the next decade (“I’m scared I’ll get fat”). Results of a recent follow-up study led by Helen B. Murray and colleagues at Harvard Medical School and Northeastern University, Boston, showed that after 22 years, most former patients had body mass indexes (BMI, kg/m2) in the normal range. The results were reported at the 2015 International Conference on Eating Disorders in Boston, MA. Two cohorts were analyzed: Wave 1, from 1987 to 1991 involved 225 patients followed for 10 years, who had DSM-IV diagnoses of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Wave 2 involved 175 of the patients followed from 2011 to 2013. The authors also reported that the rates of change in BMI are faster in the earlier years after recovery, and that short-term changes predict long-term return to normal BMIs. To calm a patient’s fear of excess weight gain after recovery, the authors suggest helping patients focus on long-term results. Learning about normal long- and short-term weight changes will help them have reasonable expectations about their weight.

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