This study compared meal-time behaviors in patients with anorexia nervosa to normal-weight controls and the effects of hospital treatment on these behaviors. Ten restricting-anorexics and six normal-weight controls were given a standard lunch and asked to eat the entire meal. Their behaviors were recorded via hidden camera. All participants were tested twice-anorexics before and after in-patient treatment, and controls at similar intervals. Videotapes of these sessions were analysed for occurrence and duration of eight categories of non-ingestive behaviors: food manipulation, food preparation, food moving, non-food manipulation, concealment, vigilance, passivity and physical activity. Food-ingestion patterns, including number of bites of food and switches between different kinds of food, were also recorded. Results indicated that anorexics spent significantly more time than controls in behaviors that were directly food-related, and exhibited more vigilance behavior. Pre-treatment anorexics spent significantly more time in these behaviors than did post-treatment anorexics. Few group differences or treatment effects were found in food-ingestion patterns, although there was an indication that both pre- and post-treatment anorexics avoided high-fat foods more than controls did. These results suggest that videotaping provides a useful technique for characterizing the behavior associated with eating disorders. Further studies should explore whether normalization of these behaviors is associated with a positive clinical outcome.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nutrition and Dietetics