Burden and health-related quality of life of eating disorders, including Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), in the Australian population

Phillipa Hay*, Deborah Mitchison, Abraham Ernesto Lopez Collado, David Alejandro González-Chica, Nigel Stocks, Stephen Touyz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Little is known about the epidemiology and health related quality of life (HRQoL) of the new DSM-5 diagnoses, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) in the Australian population. We aimed to investigate the prevalance and burden of these disorders. Methods: We conducted two sequential population-based surveys including individuals aged over 15 years who were interviewed in 2014 (n = 2732) and 2015 (n =3005). Demographic information and diagnostic features of DSM-5 eating disorders were asked including the occurrence of regular (at least weekly over the past 3 months) objective binge eating with levels of distress, extreme dietary restriction/fasting for weight/shape control, purging behaviors, overvaluation of shape and/or weight, and the presence of an avoidant/restrictive food intake without overvaluation of shape and/or weight. In 2014 functional impact or role performance was measured with the 'days out of role' question and in 2015, Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) was assessed with the Short Form -12 item questionnaire (SF-12v1). Results: The 2014 and 2015 3-month prevalence of eating disorders were: anorexia nervosa-broad 0.4% (95% CI 0.2-0.7) and 0.5% (0.3-0.9); bulimia nervosa 1.1% (0.7-1.5) and 1.2% (0.9-1.7); ARFID 0.3% (0.1-0.5) and 0.3% (0.2-0.6). The 2015 3-month prevalence rates were: BED-broad 1.5% (1.1-2.0); Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) 3.2 (2.6-3.9); and Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED) 10.4% (0.9-11.5). Most people with OSFED had atypical anorexia nervosa and majority with UFED were characterised by having recurrent binge eating without marked distress. Eating disorders were represented throughout sociodemographic groups and those with bulimia nervosa and BED-broad had mean weight (BMI, kg/m2) in the obese range. Mental HRQoL was poor in all eating disorder groups but particularly poor for those with BED-broad and ARFID. Individuals with bulimia nervosa, BED-broad and OSFED-Purging Disorder also had poor physical HRQoL. ARFID and bulimia nervosa groups had lower role performance than those without an eating disorder. Conclusions: Whilst full spectrum eating disorders, including ARFID, were less common than OSFED or UFED, they were associated with poor mental HRQoL and significant functional impairment. The present study supports the movement of eating disorders in to broader socio demographic groups including men, socio-economic disadvantaged groups and those with obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017


  • binge eating disorder
  • anorexia nervosa
  • bulimia nervosa
  • prevalence

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