Change in eating disorder symptoms following pediatric obesity treatment

Dawn M. Eichen, David R. Strong, Kyung E. Rhee, Cheryl L. Rock, Scott J. Crow, Leonard H. Epstein, Denise E. Wilfley, Kerri N. Boutelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether children with overweight or obesity participating in an evidence-based treatment, family-based behavioral treatment (FBT) for obesity, or a parent-only variant of FBT (PBT), experience an increase of eating disorder (ED) symptoms during and following treatment. Method: Children (N = 150) participating in a randomized controlled trial of FBT or PBT completed measures of EDs attitudes and behaviors at baseline, following 6-months of treatment, 6 months, and 18 months after treatment. Results: Linear-mixed effects models suggest that ED attitudes did not significantly increase. Rather, significant decreases of shape, weight, and eating concerns were shown following treatment. Loss of control over eating significantly decreased over treatment and follow-up. No participant endorsed purging at any time point. Discussion: Results confirm the hypothesis that ED symptoms do not increase after participating in FBT or a FBT-based treatment. These findings should help assuage fears of parents that enrolling their child will exacerbate ED symptoms and aid children to access evidence-based treatments that may help reduce significant physical and psychosocial complications of childhood obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-303
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the families who participated in the research and the staff at CHEAR who made this possible. Funding for this study was provided by R01DK075861 and K23DK114480, and the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • childhood obesity
  • family based behavioral treatment
  • feeding and eating disorders
  • loss of control eating
  • purging


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