Is laxative misuse associated with binge eating? Examination of laxative misuse among individuals seeking treatment for eating disorders

Roni Elran-Barak, Andrea B. Goldschmidt, Scott J. Crow, Carol B. Peterson, Laura Hill, Ross D. Crosby, James E. Mitchell, Daniel Le Grange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Objective: Our research focuses on laxative misuse, which has been understudied in previous eating disorders (ED) research, to understand its prevalence and correlates among individuals seeking ED treatment. We also test the association between laxative misuse and binge eating to examine the assumption that laxative misuse is intended to compensate for binge eating. Method: Participants were 2,295 ED treatment-seeking adults (29.5 ± 10.5) who self-reported their disordered eating behaviors on the Eating Disorder Questionnaire. Participants met DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa (AN: 11.5%, n = 264), bulimia nervosa (BN: 39.0%, n = 896), binge-eating disorder (14.9%, n = 343), or other specified feeding or eating disorder (34.5%, n = 792). Results: Nearly 25% of participants (n = 571) reported misusing laxatives during the last month. Laxative misusers with AN reported significantly higher frequency of laxative misuse relative to misusers with BN (F(1,440) = 5.226, p =.023, n2p =.012). Among laxative misusers, there was no association between frequency of binge eating and frequency of laxative misuse. Discussion: Laxative misusers with AN tend to misuse laxatives more frequently than those with BN. Binge eating was not related to laxative misuse in our sample. Future research may use real-time data collection to understand the function of laxative misuse and to validate our cross-sectional findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1114-1118
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • anorexia nervosa
  • binge eating
  • bulimia nervosa
  • laxative misuse

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