Can Emotions Help Predict Eating Disorders?

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
January/February 2009 Volume 20, Number 3
©2009 Gürze Books

According to Aitziber Pascual Jimeno, of the University of the Basque Country, San Sebastian, Spain, observing the way that certain negative emotions are controlled may help clinicians predict patients who are at greater than normal risk of developing an eating disorder. Dr. Jimeno studied emotions in 433 women, 143 of whom had been diagnosed with an eating disorder and 145 who were at risk of developing an eating disorder. The researcher attempted to discover if certain emotional variables play a significant role in the development of eating disorders and to draw clearer emotional profiles of women at risk of and those with eating disorders.

The results of the study identified certain variables that were linked to eating disorders among these women, including anxiety and low self-esteem, negative attitude to expression of emotions and alexithymia. Variables that signaled special risk for an eating disorder included excessive concern about diet, weight, and body shape. According to Dr. Jimeno, the need for control was an especially powerful element. The women experienced anxiety and lack of wellness when they perceived they had a lack of control.

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