Hyperactivity in Anorexia Nervosa A comparative study among AN patients, individuals at risk and healthy controls about the relationship of hyperactivity with eating disorder related symptoms.
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Hyperactivity is a frequently observed feature of Anorexia Nervosa (AN). However, as it is not included in the official DSM-IV criteria for the disorder, much ambiguity exists about this concept. In most studies, hyperactivity is not measured with an objective assessment tool, and the use of control groups is scarce. The aim of this study was to measure hyperactivity with different assessment tools. Objective hyperactivity was assessed using an actiwatch which registers all movement, while subject hyperactivity was assessed with the Drive for activity questionnaire and the Spare time questionnaire. Apart from the AN patients, two control groups were included in this study: an at risk and a healthy control group. As it has been found that a high activity level is known to be a predictor for future eating pathology, a group of young aspiring ballet dancers was included as an at risk group. In the present study was found that AN patients display higher levels of objective hyperactivity, drive for activity and activity in spare time than the control groups. However, no relationship existed between objective and subjective hyperactivity for the three groups. For AN patients, a negative correlation of -.48 (p = .032) was found between objective hyperactivity and SD BMI, and a negative correlation of -.51 (p = .025) between objective hyperactivity and fat percentage. A positive relationship of .58 (p = .008) was found between eating pathology and activity in spare time. For the at risk group, a positive correlation of .50 (p = .039) was found between objective hyperactivity and SD BMI. Secondly, a positive correlation of .51 (p = .030) was found between eating pathology and drive for activity. For the healthy controls a negative correlation of -.44 (p = .047) was found between objective hyperactivity and eating pathology, and a positive correlation of .73 (p < .001) was found between drive for activity and eating pathology. These results show that AN patients are indeed more hyperactive than their counterparts without an eating disorder. Furthermore, they suggest that hyperactivity in AN is related to more severe symptoms; like higher levels of eating pathology, and lower weight and fat percentage. For the at risk group, a higher weight implies more a higher level of hyperactivity, and a higher drive for activity is related to more eating pathology. For the healthy controls a lower objective hyperactivity goes hand in hand with more eating pathology, while a higher drive for activity is related to more eating pathology.