Targeting body image in eating disorders

Piers Cornelissen, Martin J. Tovée*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa (AN), are challenging to treat successfully and have a very high relapse rate. Body image disturbance (BID) is a core component of these eating disorders. It is a predicter of onset, treatment outcome and future relapse. However, recent studies suggest that BID can be improved by an adaptation of cognitive bias training. This does not target the accuracy of body size judgements, but instead focusses on how a body of a particular size is categorised by a patient. This recalibration of the categorical boundary at which bodies are judged as over-weight, which challenges a patient’s existing preconceptions about which constitutes an acceptable body size, seems to lead to a more general reassessment of eating disordered attitudes and a significant improvement in their psychological profile. These promising findings need further trials to determine the long-term effectiveness of such a targeted intervention, but it potentially provides an important additional treatment option. Additionally, this cognitive bias training may also be effective augmentation to treatment in other conditions which feature BID, such as bulimia nervosa and body dysmorphia.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
Early online date8 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2021

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