Body checking has been conceptualized as a behavioral manifestation of the core overvaluation of eating, shape, and weight concerns underlying eating disorder psychopathology. Cognitive-behavioral theories suggest that body checking behaviors may function to maintain dietary restriction. The current study examined the association between body checking frequency and dietary restriction among women with anorexia nervosa (AN) in the natural environment. Women (N=118) with full or partial AN completed baseline clinical interviews and a two-week ecological momentary assessment protocol, during which they reported on body checking behaviors (i.e., checking whether one's thighs touch; checking joints/bones for fat) and dietary restriction (i.e., 8 waking hours without eating; consuming less than 1200 calories per day). Average daily body checking frequency was positively associated with baseline eating disorder symptoms and body mass index. Daily body checking frequency was associated with both forms of dietary restriction on the same day, as well as the following day. Results support the theorized association between body checking and overvaluation of shape and weight, and suggest that targeting such behaviors in treatment may have utility in reducing dietary restriction.
- Anorexia nervosa
- Body checking
- Dietary restriction
- Ecological momentary assessment