Impulse control disorders in women with eating disorders

Fernando Fernández-Aranda, Andréa Poyastro Pinheiro, Laura M. Thornton, Wade H. Berrettini, Scott Crow, Manfred M. Fichter, Katherine A. Halmi, Allan S. Kaplan, Pamela Keel, James Mitchell, Alessandro Rotondo, Michael Strober, D. Blake Woodside, Walter H. Kaye, Cynthia M. Bulik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


We compared symptom patterns, severity of illness, and comorbidity in individuals with eating disorders with and without impulse control disorders (ICD), and documented the temporal pattern of illness onset. Lifetime ICD were present in 16.6% of 709 women with a history of eating disorders. The most common syndromes were compulsive buying disorder and kleptomania. ICD occurred more in individuals with binge eating subtypes, and were associated with significantly greater use of laxatives, diuretics, appetite suppressants and fasting, and with greater body image disturbance, higher harm avoidance, neuroticism, cognitive impulsivity, and lower self-directedness. In addition, individuals with ICD were more likely to have obsessive-compulsive disorder, any anxiety disorder, specific phobia, depression, cluster B personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, and to use psychoactive substances. Among those with ICD, 62% reported the ICD predated the eating disorder and 45% reported the onset of both disorders within the same 3-year window. The presence of a lifetime ICD appears to be limited to eating disorders marked by binge eating and to be associated with worse eating-related psychopathology, more pathological personality traits, and more frequent comorbid Axis I and II conditions. Untreated ICD may complicate recovery from eating disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-157
Number of pages11
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jan 15 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Price Foundation for the support of the clinical collection of participants and support of data analysis. The authors acknowledge the staff of the Price Foundation Collaborative Group for their efforts in participant screening and clinical assessments. The authors are indebted to the participating families for their contribution of time and effort in support of this study. Dr. Andréa Poyastro Pinheiro received financial support from Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico – CNPQ – Brazil (201093/2004-9).

Funding Information:
Support was provided by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (MH 66117). Dr. Fernando Fernández-Aranda was partially supported by AGAUR (2005SGR 00322) FIS (PI040619), CIBER (CB06/03).


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Comorbidity


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