Objective: To examine disability associated with community cases of the more commonly occurring eating disorders and with particular eating disorder behaviours. Method: Self-report questionnaires, which included measures of eating disorder symptoms and impairment in everyday functioning, were completed by 495 female residents of the Australian Capital Territory region aged between 18 and 45 years. A structured interview for the assessment of eating disorders was completed by a subgroup (n=208) of participants. Discriminant function analysis was used to identify cases of eating disorders in the total sample (n=495) based on the characteristics of individuals interviewed. Impairment in functioning, as measured by the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form, was compared among eating disorder cases and non-cases, among subgroups of participants engaging in particular eating disorder behaviours, and among community cases of anxiety and affective disorders identified from the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being. Results: Community cases of eating disorders (n=31; 6.3%) were associated with substantial impairment in functioning, comparable with that of community cases of anxiety and affective disorders. Among eating disorder behaviours, the use of extreme weight-control behaviours, in particular self-induced vomiting, was associated with the highest levels of impairment, although the occurrence of regular episodes of overeating was also associated with considerable impairment. Conclusions: The burden on the community of the more commonly occurring eating disorders may be substantial. Improving women's recognition of the adverse effects of eating disordered-behaviour on functioning, as well as their knowledge of effective treatments, will be important in reducing this burden.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 2004|