Background: The perception that eating disorders occur predominantly in young white upper-class women has been challenged. This study examined temporal differences to the demographic correlates of eating disorder behaviors over a 10-year period.
Methods. Data from cross-sectional general population surveys in 1998 (n = 3010) and 2008 (n = 3034) were collected on demographics (sex, age, income, residency), current eating disorder behaviors (binge eating, extreme dieting, purging), and health-related quality of life (SF-36).
Results: Below-median annual household income was associated with increased prevalence rates from 1998 to 2008 in binge eating, extreme dieting, and purging. Male sex was associated with increased prevalence rates in extreme dieting and purging. Age over 45 years was associated with increased prevalence rates in purging. In 2008 versus 1998, binge eating was associated with greater mental health-related quality of life impairment in males but not females; and greater physical health-related quality of life impairment in regional but not metropolitan areas. Extreme dieting was also associated with greater physical health-related quality of life impairment in 2008 versus 1998 in the lower but not the higher socioeconomic sector.
Conclusions: Findings suggest the 'democratization' of disordered eating, with greatest levels of associated impairment being within marginalized demographic sectors. Implications include the need for broader intervention programs and recruitment of demographically representative samples in eating disorder research.