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15 Nov 2019

Eating disorders have similar quality of life impacts to other common mental health disorders like anxiety, depression and schizophrenia, according to new Deakin University research.

The research from Deakin’s Institute for Health Transformation showed that even those who experience infrequent binge eating episodes or enforce restrictive diets – typically considered below the eating disorder ‘threshold’ – still reported significantly lower quality of life than peers in the general population.

Representative data from more than 5,000 people was studied, with researchers finding that 18 per cent of the sample showed symptoms associated with an eating disorder, consistent with estimated national prevalence rates.

Lead researcher Dr Long Le, from the Institute’s Deakin Health Economics team, said this insight was critical in understanding the full burden of eating disorders, as well as identifying those who needed help.

“The bulk of this number, 15 of the 18 per cent, were designated as having ‘sub-threshold’ eating disorders,” Dr Le said.

If these behaviours continued, they could become more severe and evolve into ‘threshold’ eating disorders.

The relationship between binge eating, obesity and quality of life also needed to be more fully explored.

“We found that people with high BMI had a lower quality of life relative to those of a healthy weight, whether or not they had an eating disorder,” Dr Le said.

“This is important, as the prevalence of both obesity and binge eating has been increasing significantly during the past 20 years.”

Burden and Health State Utility Values of Eating Disorders: Results from a population-based survey was published in the Psychological Medicine Journal.


Published: 15 Nov 2019