Increased self‐reported delay of gratification in acutely underweight, but not remitted anorexia nervosa

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


Objective: Laboratory experiments using delay discounting tasks have delivered some evidence of an increased capacity to delay reward in anorexia nervosa (AN). Overall, however, findings have been inconclusive and no comprehensive studies of self-reported tendency to forgo immediate gratification in favor of long-term rewards exist in AN. Method: A total of 71 acutely underweight female inpatients with AN (acAN); 52 women long-term weight-recovered from AN (recAN); and 120 healthy control women completed the Delaying Gratification Inventory (DGI). Fifty-two acAN were reassessed after short-term weight rehabilitation. Separate cross-sectional and longitudinal group comparisons tested for differences in DGI subscales (food, physical pleasure, social interaction, money, and achievement) and total scores. Results: DGI scores were elevated in acAN even after removing food-related items and accounting for comorbid symptoms. DGI scores remained relatively elevated following short-term weight rehabilitation, but no differences were evident between recAN and HC. Discussion: This study delivers self-report evidence supporting the notion of an increased propensity to delay gratification in individuals acutely ill with AN which does not appear to change with partial weight restoration alone. A reduction in the tendency to delay reward may thus be an important cognitive correlate of long-term recovery in AN.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-140
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

External IDs

Scopus 85119494542
Mendeley ae030ade-068b-33bc-bb77-0d361d23c0e5
ORCID /0000-0002-2864-5578/work/142233446