A lot of recent research has looked into the psychological factors which make people more likely to develop an eating disorder. Generally speaking people with anorexia are more likely to be perfectionist and behave in an obsessive-compulsive way whereas people with bulimia are more likely to be impulsive and to have difficulty managing their emotions. Researchers in Israel compared 60 people with anorexia to 109 people with bulimia assessing their obsessive-compulsiveness, impulsiveness, depression, anxiety and the severity of their eating disorders. The people with bulimia had significantly higher levels of impulsiveness and negative body image. Bulimia and negative body image were the main factors predicting impulsiveness. The two groups did not differ in levels of depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Depression and anxiety were found to 'obscure the link betweeen anorexia and obsessive-compulsive behaviour.' A high body-mass index (BMI) was found to intensify the association between anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviour. The study concluded that impulsiveness and obsessive-compulsiveness were not mutually exclusive and could often be found among anorexic and bulimic patients.
Finzi-Dottan, Ricky and Zubery, Eynat - The role of depression and anxiety in impulsive and obsessive-compulsive behaviors among anorexic and bulimic patients Eating Disorders March-April 2009, 17(2), 162-182