Original Article

International Journal of Obesity (2007) 31, 876–882. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803501; published online 28 November 2006

Disordered eating behaviours and cognitions in young women with obesity: relationship with psychological status

A Darby1, P Hay1, J Mond2, B Rodgers3 and C Owen4

  1. 1Discipline of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2School of Medicine, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  4. 4Medical Education Unit, Australian National University, Australia

Correspondence: A Darby, Research Officer, Discipline of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, 4811, Australia; E-mail: anita.darby@jcu.edu.au

Received 24 January 2006; Revised 23 August 2006; Accepted 31 August 2006; Published online 28 November 2006.





To examine levels of eating disorder behaviours and cognitions of young women with obesity in the Australian Capital Territory, Australia and assess the impact upon psychological status.



General population cross-sectional survey.



A total of 4891 young women from the community aged 18–42 years, of which 630 were in the obese weight range.



Body mass index (BMI), eating disorder psychopathology (eating disorder examination questionnaire), and psychological distress (K-10).



Women with obesity had significantly higher levels of dietary restraint, eating concern, weight concern, shape concern, binge eating, misuse of diuretics, use of diet pills and fasting compared to other women in the community. These eating disorder cognitions and behaviours were associated with increased levels of psychological distress. In women with obesity, eating concern, weight concern, shape concern, dietary restraint and decreased age predicted psychological distress in a multivariate model. Among other women in the community, behaviours such as laxative misuse, 'hard' exercise and subjective bulimic episodes also contributed to the model predicting psychological distress.



As disordered eating psychopathology is high in young obese women and negatively impacts upon psychological status, obesity prevention and treatment should consider eating disorder psychopathology and mental health outcomes.


female, weight disorder, binge eating, body image concern, depression, anxiety

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