Feeling fat is one of the key features of anorexia nervosa but other women, without eating disorders feel fat too. A study of 48 women in the UK compared those with anorexia, those who were dieting and those who weren't dieting to see what their experience of feeling fat was and to see whether there were any differences between anorexics and other groups of women. All three groups often felt fat an experience which was associated with distress, negative emotions, internal and external bodily sensations, negative self beliefs and a first memory of feeling fat. Those women with anorexia felt fatter than other women and felt more distress about feeling fat. They felt more negative emotions, had an earlier first memory of feeling fat and had stronger negative beliefs about themselves.
Cooper, Myra J. ... [et al] - The experience of 'feeling fat' in women with anorexia nervosa, dieting and non-dieting women : an exploratory study European Eating Disorders Review 15: 366-372