Current diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) account for a minority of individuals with clinically significant disorders of eating, raising concerns about the clinical utility of current definitions. This review examines evidence for the validity of current and alternative approaches to defining eating disorders and implications for draft criteria for the (DSM-5). Although this review largely supports the predictive validity of distinctions among AN, BN, and the newly proposed binge eating disorder (BED), it also highlights that our tendency to “study what we define” has created a gap between the problems that people have and what we know about those problems. Future research on the causes and consequences of eating disorders should include more heterogeneous groups to enable identification of meaningful boundaries that distinguish between disorders based on etiological and predictive validity.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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