The epidemiology of eating disorders: Genetic, environmental, and societal factors

Deborah Mitchison, Phillipa J. Hay

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
234 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The aim of this review was to summarize the literature to date regarding the sociodemographic, environmental, and genetic correlates of eating disorders (EDs) in adults. Method: A keyword search was entered into Scopus (SciVerse, Elsevier) to identify relevant articles published in English up until June 2013. Articles were assessed against a range of a priori inclusion and exclusion criteria. Results: A total of 149 full-text articles were found to be eligible for the review and included 86 articles with data on sociodemographic correlates, 57 on environmental correlates, and 13 on genetic correlates. Female sex, younger age, sexual and physical abuse, participation in esthetic or weight-oriented sports, and heritability were found to be most consistently associated with higher ED prevalence and incidence. Conversely, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education, and urbanicity did not appear to have strong associations with ED epidemiology. Conclusion: More community-based research, with an equal representation of males, needs to be conducted to confirm the current findings and provide evidence for emerging factors that may be related to EDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2014. 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.

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