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Body Talk: Attributes to Body Weight in Eating Disorder Patients

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Moelbert, S., Walter, L., Quiros-Ramirez, M., Mohler, B., Zipfel, S., & Giel, K. (2018). Body Talk: Attributes to Body Weight in Eating Disorder Patients. Poster presented at 6th Annual Scientific Conference of the European Association of Psychosomatic Medicine (EAPM 2018): Innovative and Integrated Approaches to Promote Mental and Physical Health, Verona, Italy.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-7D67-0
Aims: Eating disorders are typically associated with high self-criticism of one’s body, and there are hints that
patients also stigmatize other people for their weight more than healthy people do. In this study, we use questionnaire
data as well as two desktop computer tasks to investigate (1) whether people with eating disorders assign negative
attributes to increasing weight and (2) whether weight-related stigmatization is stronger than in healthy controls.
Methods: 30 eating disorder patients and 30 healthy controls are assessed. To measure evaluation of the own
body, we use a set of established questionnaires (EDE-Q, BIQ-20, EDI-2). Weight bias is assessed with the Fat Phobia
Scale and with two computer tasks. In task 1, we present computer generated bodies of varying body mass index
(BMI; kg/m²) and ask for ratings how much a set of adjectives apply to this body. Also, we collect valence ratings for the adjectives. In task 2, participants freely model bodies to fit the same adjectives, and we afterwards compute the bodies’ BMI.
Results: We assessed 10 patients with anorexia nervosa, 5 patients with bulimia nervosa and 10 patients with
binge eating disorder. Pilot analyses with seven patients suggested significant correlations between BMI and
attribution of adjectives. Heavier bodies were evaluated as fatter and more pear shaped, but also as more clumsy, lazy
and less goal-oriented. In task 2, the adjusted body weight was significantly correlated with valence of the adjective.
Conclusions: Preliminary data show that our tasks are appropriate to capture weight stigma. More detailed
analyses will be presented at the conference. A multi-center assessment is planned to enable comparisons between
different diagnoses.