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Subjective and objective binge eating in relation to eating disorder symptomatology, depressive symptoms, and self-esteem among treatment-seeking adolescents with bulimia nervosa.

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This study investigated the importance of the distinction between objective (OBE) and subjective binge eating (SBE) among 80 treatment-seeking adolescents with bulimia nervosa. We explored relationships among OBEs, SBEs, eating disorder (ED) symptomatology, depression, and self-esteem using two approaches. Group comparisons showed that OBE and SBE groups did not differ on ED symptoms or self-esteem; however, the SBE group had significantly greater depression. Examining continuous variables, OBEs (not SBEs) accounted for significant unique variance in global ED pathology, vomiting, and self-esteem. SBEs (not OBEs) accounted for significant unique variance in restraint and depression. Both OBEs and SBEs accounted for significant unique variance in eating concern; neither accounted for unique variance in weight/shape concern, laxative use, diuretic use, or driven exercise. Loss of control, rather than amount of food, may be most important in defining binge eating. Additionally, OBEs may indicate broader ED pathology, while SBEs may indicate restrictive/depressive symptomatology.

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