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Anorexia nervosa has been associated with high levels of ruminative thoughts about eating, shape and weight as well as avoidance of emotion and experience. This study examined the associations between disorder-specific rumination, mindfulness, experiential avoidance and eating disorder symptoms. A sample of healthy females (n=228) completed a battery of on-line self-report measures. A hierarchical regression analysis revealed that ruminative brooding on eating, weight and shape concerns was uniquely associated with eating disorder symptoms, above and beyond anxiety and depression symptoms. In a small group (n=42) of individuals with a history of anorexia nervosa, only reflection on eating weight and shape was able to predict eating disorder symptoms when controlling for depression and anxiety. The results suggest that rumination (both brooding and reflection) on eating, weight and shape concerns may be a process which exacerbates eating disorder symptoms. Examining rumination may improve understanding of the cognitive processes which underpin anorexia nervosa and this may in turn aid the development of novel strategies to augment existing interventions. Replication in a larger clinical sample is warranted.

Original publication




Journal article


Eat Behav

Publication Date





100 - 105


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Anorexia Nervosa, Anxiety, Body Image, Depression, Feeding Behavior, Feeding and Eating Disorders, Female, Humans, Middle Aged, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Psychological Tests, Surveys and Questionnaires, Thinking, Young Adult