Anorexia nervosa and culture


Correspondence: K. J. Simpson Department of Nursing Studies Adam Ferguson Building 55/56 George Square Edinburgh EH8 9JU UK


Anorexia nervosa is currently considered a disorder confined to Western culture. Its recent identification in non-Western societies and different subcultures within the Western world has provoked a theory that Western cultural ideals of slimness and beauty have infiltrated these societies. The biomedical definition of anorexia nervosa emphasizes fat-phobia in the presentation of anorexia nervosa. However, evidence exists that suggests anorexia nevosa can exist without the Western fear of fatness and that this culturally biased view of anorexia nervosa may obscure health care professionals’ understanding of a patient’s own cultural reasons for self-starvation, and even hinder their recovery.