Considering alternative calculations of weight suppression

Katherine Schaumberg, Lisa M. Anderson, Erin E. Reilly, Sasha Gorrell, Drew A. Anderson, Mitch Earleywine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Weight suppression (WS)-the difference between an individual's highest adult weight and current weight-relates to eating pathology and weight gain; however, there are several methodological issues associated with its calculation. The current study presents four alternative methods of calculating WS and tests whether these methods differentially relate to maladaptive outcomes. Alternative methods of calculation included: (1) change in BMI units; (2) BMI category change; (3) percent change in weight; and (4) two different uses of regression residuals. A sample of undergraduate students (. N=. 631) completed self-report measures of eating pathology, current and past weight, and teasing. Measures included the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire and the Perceptions of Teasing Scale. Results indicated that components of WS, current weight and highest weight, were strongly related in the present sample. The traditional method of calculating WS was related to eating pathology, binge eating and teasing for both males and females. However, WS indices orthogonal to the highest weight did not correlate with eating pathology and teasing in both males and females; for females, WS indices orthogonal to current weight were also unrelated to eating pathology. Findings suggest that the link between WS and eating pathology is mitigated after accounting for an individual's highest weight. Future research should continue to assess the reliability and clinical utility of this construct and consider using alternative WS calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalEating Behaviors
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Body mass index
  • Eating pathology
  • Weight suppression


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