Religious belief and anorexia nervosa



This study examines aspects of the relationship between religious belief and anorexia ner-vosa. It uses data from postal questionnaires sent to members of a U.K. national self-help organization for people with “eating disorders” which elicited a profile of symptoms and other clinical data and information about personal and family religious beliefs. The data suggest that the majority of respondents were or had been afflicted with anorexia nervosa. Subjects with a religion, particularly those with strong beliefs, and particularly those who were Anglican, reported particularly lowest ever adult Body Mass Indices (BMIs). Part of the explanation for these findings would seem to be an increase in the importance of subjects' religious beliefs during their anorectic illnesses. Conversely, bulimic symptomatology seemed to be associated with a weakening of subjects' beliefs. Religious conversion seemed to serve as a protective function against severe weight loss. © 1992 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.