Study reveals high rate of disordered eating in young Australian women

June 28, 2016, University of Queensland
Study reveals high rate of disordered eating in young Australian women
Credit: University of Queensland

Up to one-third of young Australian women experience episodes of binge or overeating, with socially disadvantaged women at greater than average risk.

Researchers from The University of Queensland, Stockholm University and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have found that four per cent of women aged 18 to 23 reported symptoms of bulimia nervosa, but the incidence of milder was much greater.

UQ School of Public Health's Professor Gita Mishra said 17 per cent of women reported episodes of , 16 per cent reported and 10 per cent reported compensatory behaviours such as vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics and fasting.

"The results highlight the large burden of both transient and persistent milder and undiagnosed forms of disordered and overeating in this age group," Professor Mishra said.

The study analysed data from more than 6800 participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH), building on earlier work on social and early life causes of eating disorders at the Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS) in Sweden.

Professor Ilona Koupil from CHESS said the research showed there was an increased risk of binge eating or overeating among socially disadvantaged women.

"There was also increased risk among young women who reported smoking and binge drinking, suggesting a possible overlap between substance abuse and eating disorders," Professor Koupil said.

The researchers believe social patterns could be used to identify at-risk groups and those in need of early diagnosis and secondary prevention.

"We were intrigued to see a higher risk of binge eating and bulimia nervosa among women of European origin and in those who had been overweight or obese in childhood," Professor Koupil said.

"We hope our results prompt further efforts to monitor prevalence of these common disorders among young in Australia and overseas."

The researchers said more investigation was needed into long-term outcomes and consequences of disordered eating.

The study is published in Public Health Nutrition.

Explore further: Binge eating disorder can be treated

More information: Ilona Koupil et al. Social patterning of overeating, binge eating, compensatory behaviours and symptoms of bulimia nervosa in young adult women: results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, Public Health Nutrition (2016). DOI: 10.1017/S1368980016001440

Related Stories

Binge eating disorder can be treated

November 10, 2015
When most people hear the term "eating disorder," they usually think of anorexia or bulimia nervosa. While anorexia and bulimia are more commonly recognized, doctors are concerned about a different kind of eating disorder ...

Teenage mothers at greater risk of partner violence

March 22, 2016
Australian women having their first child as teenagers are at increased risk of experiencing domestic violence, according to new data presented at the United Nations headquarters today.

Binge eating, overeating may be associated with initiating use of marijuana, other drugs

December 10, 2012
Overeating and binge eating may be associated with initiating use of marijuana and other drugs in a study of adolescents and young adults, according to a study published Online First by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent ...

School affects girls' chances of being diagnosed with an eating disorder

April 21, 2016
The school a girl attends can affect her chance of being diagnosed with an eating disorder. That's the conclusion of research carried out by a joint UK-Swedish team. The results were published today in the International Journal ...

Gene variation identified for teen binge eating

July 21, 2015
A variation of a gene that can lead teenagers to binge eat has been identified by researchers. The work, carried out by academics at UCL and the universities of Bristol and Queensland, hope the finding will allow a better ...

Recommended for you

A low-gluten, high-fiber diet may be healthier than gluten-free

November 16, 2018
When healthy people eat a low-gluten and fibre-rich diet compared with a high-gluten diet, they experience less intestinal discomfort including less bloating. Researchers at University of Copenhagen show that this is due ...

Youth dating violence shaped by parents' conflict-handling views, study finds

November 16, 2018
Parents who talk to their children about nonviolent ways of resolving conflict may reduce children's likelihood of physically or psychologically abusing their dating partners later—even when parents give contradictory messages ...

Why we shouldn't like coffee, but we do

November 15, 2018
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

Dietary fat is good? Dietary fat is bad? Coming to consensus

November 15, 2018
Which is better, a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet or a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet—or is it the type of fat that matters? In a new paper featured on the cover of Science magazine's special issue on nutrition, researchers ...

Low-carb diets cause people to burn more calories

November 14, 2018
Most people regain the weight they lose from dieting within one or two years, in part because the body adapts by slowing metabolism and burning fewer calories. A meticulous study led by Boston Children's Hospital, in partnership ...

Colder, darker climates increase alcohol consumption and liver disease

November 14, 2018
Where you live could influence how much you drink. According to new research from the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology, people living in colder regions with less sunlight drink more alcohol than their ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.