Disordered eating: Can women accurately recall their binging and purging behaviors 10 years later?

Alison E. Field, Graham A. Colditz, David B. Herzog, Todd F. Heatherton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Objective: To test women's ability to recall their past binging and purging behaviors. Design: Ten-year follow-up study of women who had participated in a cross-sectional survey during college. Subjects: In 1982, a sample of freshman and senior women at a large university in the Boston area were questioned about their weight, dieting history, bulimic symptoms, and eating patterns, attitudes, and concerns. In 1992, all subjects who responded to the 1982 survey were followed up to assess changes in bulimic symptoms and ability to recall past behaviors. Results: Among the 476 women who responded to both surveys, the percentage in 1992 who reported having ever binged and/or purged was less than the percentage in 1982, indicating that the recall of past behaviors was less than perfect. Denial in 1992 of ever having engaged in the behaviors ranged from 22% among the women who were self-inducing vomiting in 1982 to 64% among the women who had reported current fasting or strict dieting in 1982. Recall of past behaviors in 1992 was better among the women who had been current bingers or purgers in 1982. Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that ability to recall past binging and purging is only modest. Therefore to better understand the mental and physical health consequences of these behaviors this information should be collected prospectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-159
Number of pages7
JournalObesity research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Eating disorders
  • Recall
  • Women

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Disordered eating: Can women accurately recall their binging and purging behaviors 10 years later?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this