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Rates in context

Exact prevalence rates of eating disorders are difficult to gauge. Although many eating disorders develop during adolescence, it is not at all unusual for people to develop eating disorders earlier or later in life.


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In fact, we are aware of cases of anorexia in children as young as 6 and some research reports cases developing in women in their 70s. Outside of the stereotypical age bracket, people are less likely to be appropriately diagnosed due to a lack of understanding and awareness of eating disorders in these age groups. Research carried out in Australia suggests that the average duration of anorexia is eight years and five years for bulimia. However, these illnesses can also become severe and enduring, lasting for many years and having a hugely debilitating effect on the sufferers and their families.

The sooner someone gets the treatment they need, the more likely they are to make a full recovery. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, from medical complications associated with the illness as well as suicide. Bulimia is associated with severe medical complications, and binge eating disorder sufferers often experience the medical complications associated with obesity.

In every case, eating disorders severely affect the quality of life of the sufferer and those that care for them. Eating disorders are complex with no one sole cause, but we know from research that individuals might be predisposed due to their genetic or biological make up. Obesity Since obesity has more than doubled worldwide. Eating disorders In Sweden it is estimated that , people suffer from eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa the archetypical eating disorder , bulimia nervosa and eating disorder not otherwise specified.

It is more than helping people to decide what to change; it is helping them identify how to change. References 1.


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  • Social Media. Join our mailing list and stay up to date with the latest news of our project. Brown et al. When BMI was added to the model, the association remained significant among males and was marginally significant among females [ ]. Given the importance placed on body shape and size in the US culture and the important role weight plays in how adolescents feel about themselves, it is possible that being teased about weight may result in depressive symptoms or body dissatisfaction [ — ], which may lead to binge eating behavior [ 38 ].

    Being teasing about weight may also cause an individual to diet in an attempt to avoid future weight-related stigmatization, which may lead to binge eating behavior. Binge eating, in turn, can lead to an increased risk for weight gain and obesity [ 33 ], as depicted in Fig. Teasing has also been shown to be associated with disordered eating behaviors, such as purging and restricting behaviors.

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    Among adult populations, studies have examined the relation of retrospective reports of teasing and use of disordered eating behaviors and found that women who were teased about their appearance as children demonstrate higher levels of restrictive eating patterns than women who did not report being teased [ , — ]. Among adolescents and children, cross-sectional research has shown that being teased about weight is associated with higher levels of disordered eating behaviors [ 90 , , , ].

    Fewer prospective studies have examined the effects of teasing on the development of disordered eating behaviors. Cattarin and Thompson [ ] followed a sample of adolescent girls for 3 years and found that teasing was directly associated with the level of appearance dissatisfaction, which in turn predicted use of restrictive and bulimic behaviors. Wertheim et al. Conversely, Field et al. Gardner et al. Similar gender differences were seen in longitudinal analyses of a large sample of adolescents [ ].

    As discussed previously, dieting and use of unhealthy weight control behaviors may increase the risk for developing an eating disorder Fig. Although prospective research examining the association between weight teasing and these behaviors is limited, the evidence from the existing cross-sectional and prospective studies suggest that being teased about weight is positively associated with binge eating and other disordered eating behaviors e.

    Thus, interventions aimed at reducing weight-related teasing in youth may have relevance for obesity and eating disorders.

    Strategies that may be effective in reducing weight-related teasing among youth include i the implementation of clear no-teasing policies at schools and community-based organizations that serve youth and ii intervention activities focused on reducing verbal harassment and improving conflict resolution and communication skills among youth. As a result of the high prevalence of obesity, eating disorders and disordered eating among youth and the evidence suggesting these disorders may not be distinct from one another, there has been increasing interest among obesity and eating disorder researchers to utilize an integrated approach to the prevention of these disorders.

    Identification of risk factors that are shared among these weight-related disorders is an essential step to developing effective prevention interventions.

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    Specifically, this article examined and found preliminary evidence that dieting, media use, body image and weight-related teasing may have relevance for the development of the spectrum of weight-related disorders. This information can be used to inform future etiologic research and intervention design. Prospective studies can be designed to specifically test the pathways proposed in this article. These associations can also be examined using experimental research, such as community-based trials, which would provide stronger evidence of causality than can be achieved with prospective studies.

    In addition to the factors and pathways highlighted here, other potential shared risk and protective factors that may be worthy of further etiologic inquiry include self-esteem, depression, dietary intake patterns e. The findings from this review also have implications for the development of prevention interventions. This review provides preliminary evidence of factors that are amenable to intervention and that may have relevance for both obesity and eating disorders. Thus, these factors may serve as important focal points for an intervention aimed at simultaneously addressing both obesity and eating disorders.

    Many of the factors reviewed in this paper are more commonly addressed in interventions focused on the prevention of eating disorders rather than obesity.


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    However, as evidenced by this review of the literature, many of these factors, including dieting, body dissatisfaction and teasing, can lead to increased weight gain and obesity. Thus, the effectiveness of obesity prevention programs may be improved by including messages that address these risk factors, in addition to the typical obesity prevention messages of increased physical activity and improved dietary intake. Interventions that use this more integrated approach may also have the added benefit of reducing the risk of eating disorders among youth.

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    The Media & Eating Disorders | National Centre for Eating Disorders

    Sign In or Create an Account. Sign In. Advanced Search. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Article Contents. Body dissatisfaction. Weight-related teasing. Conflict of interest statement.

    Prevention of obesity and eating disorders: a consideration of shared risk factors Jess Haines. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer. Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. Abstract In response to the high prevalence of obesity, eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors among youth, researchers in both the obesity and eating disorders fields have proposed using an integrated approach to prevention that addresses the spectrum of weight-related disorders within interventions.

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    Hypothesized association between media exposure and eating disorders.