Eating disorders amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: a scoping review

Adam Burt, Deborah Mitchison*, Kerrie Doyle, Phillipa Hay

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)
    7 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (Indigenous Australians) have poorer mental health compared to other Australians. Yet, there is a lack of research into mental disorders among this population, especially for eating disorders (ED), which are amongst the most lethal and debilitating mental disorders. Aim: We aimed to answer 2 questions: 1. What is the volume and content of literature on ED among Indigenous Australians? 2. Has a screening or diagnostic tool/instrument been developed for the assessment of ED amongst Indigenous Australians? Method: We conducted a scoping review of electronic databases (Pubmeb, Embase, PsychInfo, Proquest, Cochrane Library, Indigenous HealtInfoNet and Scopus), for studies addressing ED, body image, muscle dysmorphia, weight and shape concern among Indigenous Australians, as well as diagnostic and screening tools. All relevant studies were reviewed in full by 2 researchers. Narrative synthesis of the data was performed. Results: There is limited evidence for ED among Indigenous Australians, however, the evidence available strongly suggests that ED are more common among Indigenous Australians compared to other Australians. Eating disorders among Indigenous Australians are also associated with high levels of overvaluation of weight and shape. The increased risk of ED among Indigenous Australians was largely explained by factors such as poorer psychosocial wellbeing. No evidence was found for the existence of validated diagnostic or screening tools for ED in Indigenous Australians. Conclusion: The evidence suggests ED are common among Indigenous Australians, and there are no diagnostic or screening tools available to assist clinicians in assessing them. More research is required in this field, especially towards the development of a validated and culturally specific screening or diagnostic tool for ED among Indigenous Australians.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number73
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander
    • Diagnosis
    • Feeding and eating disorders
    • Oceanic ancestry group
    • Screening


    Dive into the research topics of 'Eating disorders amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: a scoping review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this