Dysfunctional eating in the eating disorders

Marion M. Hetherington, Barbara J. Rolls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Aberrant eating patterns in the eating disorders have been observed across various laboratory-based and clinical studies. It is now clear that problems in experiencing and expressing hunger, appetite, and satiety in anorexia and bulimia nervosa are likely to perpetuate the disorders once established. Whether problems in appetite regulation are primary or secondary to the development of the disorders is unknown. In studies examining indices of appetite regulation after treatment, there still remain significant levels of eating abnormality. This suggests that the main goals of treatment, including restoration of body weight in anorexia nervosa, abstaining from dieting in anorexia or bulimia nervosa, and reducing or abstaining from binge eating, do not correct some features of abnormal eating. The efficacy of nutritional counseling and specific nutritional management programs have been tested, and these seem to produce positive outcomes in improving eating behavior. Direct behavioral interventions to change eating patterns also have been examined, and these too seem to produce benefits that may be incorporated into CBT. Greater collaboration and cooperation between researchers and clinicians in addressing dysfunctional eating in the eating disorders will highlight improvements in treatment for identifiable eating abnormalities and will further the understanding of the human appetite system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-248
Number of pages14
JournalPsychiatric Clinics of North America
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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