The epidemiology of eating disorder behaviors: An Australian community-based survey


  • Phillipa Hay

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
    • Department of Psychiatry, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
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The study aims were to evaluate the prevalence and distribution of respective eating disorder behaviors (DSM-IV criteria) in a representative community-based sample. Method: Data were obtained from 3,001 interviews of a randomly selected sample of 4,200 individuals' (age >15 years) households in South Australia. Results: Ninety-six (3.2%) of respondents had regular current episodes of binge eating, 48 (1.6%) regularly fasted or used strict dieting, 24 (0.8%) purged. An estimated 8 (0.3%) had bulimia nervosa and 30 (1%) had binge eating disorder. Binge eating and dieting were most common in people who were in their early to mid thirties. Dieting and purging, but not regular binge eating, were more common in women than in men. Purging was most common in the 35–44 year age range. The only behavior significantly associated with (increased) weight was binge eating. Unmarried subjects were less likely to diet than married subjects. No significant differences in rates of these behaviors were found for household income. Discussion: Problematic eating disorder behaviors in older women and in men were more common than expected and merit further clinical and research attention. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 23: 371–382, 1998.