Brief Report: The Relationship Between Eating Disorder Symptoms and Meaning in Life

Sanne van Doornik*, Felix Höing, Klaske Glashouwer, Peter de Jong, Brian Ostafin

*Corresponding author for this work

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Theory suggests that low meaning in life might be an important factor in the refractoriness of eating disorders (EDs). However, empirical findings on the relationship between life meaning and ED symptoms are relatively scarce and previous studies are limited by their methodological approach. To expand on previous findings, the present study included a homogenous sample of first-year female students (N = 112), used a validated measure of ED symptoms, and included two measures of life meaning. As life meaning was not related to ED symptoms, the results of the current study cast doubt on the importance of low life meaning as a factor in non-clinical ED symptomatology. However, lower life meaning was related to higher BMI. Future longitudinal studies are necessary to examine whether low life meaning can be best seen as a risk factor or as a consequence of increased BMI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407–414
Number of pages8
JournalThe Humanistic Psychologist
Issue number4
Early online dateFeb-2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • eating disorder symptoms
  • disordered eating
  • meaning in life
  • female undergraduate students

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