Eating Disorders In The UK On The Rise

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Author: Nsikan Akpan

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The number of teens with eating disorders is rising in the UK, according to a study which surveyed medical records of 5 percent of the entire population. The findings were published today in BMJ Open.

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Although they are relatively rare — approximately 3 percent of those ages 13 to 17 — eating disorders cause more deaths than any other psychological disorder.

Anorexia and bulimia receive the most attention in research and policy, but a third group — eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) — is quickly gaining traction.

This condition refers to disordered eating patterns which may share many of the symptoms of anorexia and bulimia, but may not meet strict diagnostic criteria. People with behaviors such as binge eating, chewing food and spitting it out, or purging food more infrequently than a classic bulimic, are included in this category.

In January of 2000, a joint collaboration of epidemiologists at University College of London, King’s College London, and Boston University set out to determine the incidence of eating disorders in the United Kingdom. They pulled anonymous health information from a large database of medical records, compiled from over 400 general practices. Statistics were collected for anyone from the age of 10-49 until the last day of 2009.

The number of eating disorders increased from 2000 to 2009 both males and females. Bulimia was the most common for women from 2000 to 2003, but EDNOS surpassed it towards the end of the decade. EDNOS was the most common classification for men throughout the study period.

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