Study: recognize these warning signals in good time - there are indications of eating disorders

Study: recognize these warning signals in good time - there are indications of eating disorders

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Can eating disorders be predicted early?

More and more people suffer from eating disorders. Are there ways to identify the risk of eating disorders early on? Researchers have now found that sufferers often had other diseases years before their eating disorder was diagnosed.

The current study by Swansea University found that certain illnesses can indicate this years before an eating disorder. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "The British Journal of Psychiatry".

How dangerous are eating disorders?

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa affect people worldwide. Unfortunately, many of the sufferers do not seek help. Women are particularly often affected, but men also develop eating disorders. Most people are diagnosed with the disease in adolescence and early adulthood. Eating disorders often lead to the death of those affected, both due to physical causes and due to psychological problems with subsequent suicide.

Early diagnosis is particularly important

Despite the scale of the problem, there are few specialized treatment centers. Young people often try to keep their problem secret and avoid treatment. However, the earlier the disorder can be diagnosed, the better the therapy prospects for the sick. The latest findings could be used in diagnosis as early warning signals for a possible eating disorder.

Data from almost 15,600 people were analyzed

For the study, anonymized electronic patient records from general practitioners and hospital admissions in Wales were evaluated. Between 1990 and 2017, 15,558 people in Wales were diagnosed with an eating disorder. It was found that there were higher rates of other mental disorders, alcohol problems, and depression in the two years before the diagnosis of the eating disorder. Those affected more often had accidents, wounds and injuries themselves. There were also higher prescription rates for drugs such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, and for gastrointestinal disorders. Those affected also took food supplements (e.g. multivitamins and iron) more frequently.

This makes it easier for general practitioners to identify eating disorders

If general practitioners look for these tips or a combination of these factors, they can identify eating disorders early on. Early diagnosis and treatment for eating disorders is very important. Delays in diagnosis and treatment are unfortunately widespread and also result in poorer results and great suffering. Eating disorders can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families. This research helps to prove the prevalence of eating disorders. However, the majority of these patients identified with eating disorders have not been known to specialized eating disorders services.

More interesting articles on this topic can be found here:

  • Doubling of eating disorders in the past 20 years - what are the reasons?
  • DDG warns: Life-threatening combination - eating disorders in diabetes
  • Eating Disorders: Psychotherapy helps manage cravings
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  • Eating disorder: predisposition to anorexia nervosa already predetermined in the womb?
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Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Joanne C. Demmler, Sinead T. Brophy, Amanda Marchant, Ann John, Jacinta OA Tan: Shining the light on eating disorders, incidence, prognosis and profiling of patients in primary and secondary care: national data linkage study, in The British Journal of Psychiatry (query: 01.07.2019), The British Journal of Psychiatry

Video: Eating Disorders: Risks and Warning Signs Part 1 of 2 (July 2022).


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