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Purging Disorder Differs from Bulimia Nervosa

Compulsion to induce vomiting occurs without prior binge eating

THURSDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Purging disorder, a compulsion to self-induce vomiting without previous binge eating, is an eating disorder in its own right and is distinct from bulimia nervosa, according to a report in the September issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Pamela K. Keel, Ph.D., of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and colleagues conducted a study of 90 women, including 37 with bulimia nervosa, 20 with purging disorder and 33 healthy controls with no eating disorder. The participants had a body mass index of between 18.5 and 26.5 and were not taking any psychotropic medications. The subjects took part in two psychological assessment visits, including one in which their responses to a test meal were evaluated.

Both eating disorder groups had elevated eating abnormalities but those with purging disorder had higher levels of cholecystokinin release compared with the bulimia nervosa subjects, and also reported much higher levels of postprandial fullness and stomachache than their bulimic counterparts.

"A diagnosis of purging disorder should be considered for inclusion in the classification of eating disorders," the authors conclude. "Elevation of purging disorder from the undifferentiated eating disorder not otherwise specified category would facilitate much needed research into the causes, consequences, and, most importantly, efficacious treatment of this serious eating disorder."

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