Eating disorders and disordered eating in Israel: An updated review

Authors

  • Yael Latzer,

    Corresponding author
    1. Eating Disorders Clinic, Psychiatry Division, Rambam Medical Center, Affiliated With the School of Social Work, Haifa University, Haifa, Israel
    • Eating Disorders Clinic, Psychiatry Division, Rambam Medical Center, Affiliated With the School of Social Work, Haifa University, Haifa, Israel.
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  • Eliezer Witztum,

    1. Psychiatry Division, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Negev, Israel
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  • Daniel Stein

    1. Pediatric Psychosomatic Department, Safra Children's Hospital, The Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Affiliated With the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
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Abstract

Israel presents a unique opportunity to study the role of socio-cultural parameters in the development of mental disturbances because of the exceptional diversity of the Israeli society. In the present review, we aimed to analyse the current state of disordered eating in Israel by means of an extensive literature review. The following are the main findings of our review: The frequency of maladaptive eating among female and male Israeli Jewish adolescents is higher in comparison to many other Westernised countries. Among different Jewish sub-populations, Kibbutz women have been found until recently to show higher rates of disordered eating in comparison to other Israeli samples. Recent studies show no such difference between Kibbutz members and the general Israeli population. No clear-cut findings emerge with respect to the influence of immigration and degree of Jewish religious affiliation on the occurrence of disordered eating. In contrast, disordered eating is less prevalent in Israeli-Arabs compared with Israeli-Jews. Moreover, diverse Israeli-Arab groups show different rates of disordered eating. We discuss the high rate of disordered eating in Israeli youth in light of Israel being a culture in transition that is constantly exposed to the risk of terrorism. The changes in the rates of disordered eating in the Kibbutzim are discussed in light of the dramatic societal changes occurring in these communities within a relatively brief period of time. The low rates of disordered eating in Israeli-Arabs reflect the traditional non-Westernised characteristics of their society, whereas the differences between diverse Arab sub-populations depend upon the degree of exposure to Westernised influences and the presence of conflicts between modern and traditional values. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.

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