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Incidence of eating disorders rises in UK

Written by | 10 Jul 2013 | All Medical News

Taken from the BMJ – by Bruce Sylvester – The most common type of eating disorder diagnosed in the UK is not bulimia or anorexia, but, rather, “eating disorders not otherwise specified,” researchers reported online on May 20, 2013  in BMJ Open.

With few prior studies extant, the investigators queried the incidence of diagnosed anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and other non-specified eating disorders in primary care over a 10-year period in the UK, beginning in 2000. They used data from the General Practice Database, containing anonymous records of 5% of the UK population, for the period 2000-2009.

They identified a total of 9072 cases of diagnosed eating disorders.

They found that that, in 2000, there were 32.3 new cases of eating disorder per 100,000 population between ages 10 and 49 years. This rate rose steadily to 37.2 new cases per 100,000 by 2009.

Notably, the incidence of bulimia and anorexia remained stable over the ten-year period.  New cases of unspecified eating disorder were responsible for the overall increase in the incidence of diagnosis.

The rise in unspecified eating disorders has been less studied than bulimia and anorexia, despite being the most common type seen in hospital care, and 60% of cases reported in specialist services; it had not yet been estimated for general practice care.

The researchers reported that girls aged 15 to 19 years and boys aged 10 to 14 had the highest incidences of new diagnoses of eating disorder.

They found that two girls in every 1000, aged 15 to 19 years, are likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder every year, or about 4610 new cases in girls of this age group each year. Therefore, eating disorder is probably the most common new onset mental health disorder in adolescent girls after depression, the authors concluded.

In 2009, the incidence of new diagnoses of depression in girls in this age group was 11.9 per 1000.

The authors noted that, with publication of the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) in 2013, the majority of these unspecified cases will, in the future, be diagnosed as anorexia, bulimia or a new condition of binge eating disorder.

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