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Keywords:

  • eating disorders;
  • bulimia nervosa;
  • binge-eating disorder;
  • prevalence studies

Abstract

Objective:

We estimated the prevalence of eating disorders and maladaptive eating behaviors in a population-based sample and examined the association of maladaptive eating with self-rated physical and mental health.

Method:

A sample of 1,501 women (mean age = 31.2 years, SD = 6.2) were recruited using random-digit dialing to participate in a 20-min telephone interview about eating behaviors.

Results:

Weighted frequency analysis showed the prevalence of frequent binge-eating to be 4.1%, that of regular purging to be 1.1%, and that of frequent compensation to be 8.7%. Although we found none of the women to meet full criteria for anorexia nervosa, 0.6% met criteria for bulimia nervosa, 3.8% provisional criteria for binge eating disorder, and 0.6% criteria for a newly proposed entity, purging disorder. As many as 14.9% fell into a residual category representing subthreshold, but potentially problematic variants of eating disturbances. Logistic regression analyses showed that clinical-level maladaptive eating attitudes and behaviors predicted self-rated physical- and mental-health problems after sociodemographic factors were controlled.

Discussion:

This population-based survey provides prevalence estimates of BN, BED, and purging disorder that are compatible with those of recent epidemiological studies and shows that maladaptive eating attitudes and behaviors represent a substantial population burden. © 2008 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2009