Objective: To explore the reasons why eating disorder patients consume non-alcoholic fluids and to examine variables associated with poor and excessive drinking. Methods: A sample of 115 patients admitted for inpatient treatment to a specialist eating disorder facility completed a semi-standardised retrospective fluid intake history of type and amount of fluid and of reasons for drinking. ANOVA, chi-square and factor analysis were performed.
Results: The main reasons for consuming fluids were for fullness and appetite suppression; for feelings of control including feeling empty; to assist with purging; and for physiological reasons such as drinking when thirsty, after exercising and to increase energy levels via caffeine ingestion.
Discussion: An eating disorder needs to be considered a disorder of fluid intake, as much as a disorder of food intake. Factors affecting the fluid intake of eating disorder patients are related to the presence of eating disorder behaviours.