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Why are there more and more eating disorders in today's society?
More and more people suffer from so-called eating disorders. According to experts, the number of eating disorders reported annually worldwide has more than doubled in the past 18 years. This is due, at least in part, to increasing awareness of a wider range of disorders.
A recent study by Normandy Rouen University in France found that the prevalence of eating disorders more than doubled from 3.4 percent in the population in 2000 to 7.8 percent in 2018. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition".
What influence does our society have on our eating behavior?
The increasing recognition of eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa partly explains the dramatic increase, but what are the reasons for such an increase? Today's societies have increased their awareness of food, nutrition and diet significantly. This leads to a particularly strong focus on obesity, public health and individual interventions for obesity. Eating disorders were more of an unintentional causal factor, the researchers explain.
Children's eating behavior is severely impaired
People's current responses to obesity and obesity are contributing to an increase in eating disorders because they target our overall eating habits and true demonization of certain foods, as well as limiting the consumption of those foods as a solution. This focus also increases fear and stress related to eating and general food consumption. In young children, this is evidenced by increasing fear of eating, restrictive eating habits, and certain food-related behaviors, the study's authors report.
Weight stigma complicates treatment
The study is significant because it considered the general population to quantify the prevalence of eating disorders, rather than just people who are already receiving treatment or looking for support. People of all shapes and sizes were examined, and the participants had a lot in common. There is an increase in all forms of eating disorders. But stigmatization prevents adequate treatment for many of those affected, which further fuels the increasing prevalence of eating disorders. STigmatization affects both people who carry a bit more weight with them and those who are too thin.
The recovery process takes a long time
The researchers believe that better and easier diagnosis and improved support for families and carers and the removal of stigmatization would facilitate the recovery process. The recovery often takes a long time and there are often relapses, but this is all part of the healing process. The researchers emphasize that further studies should now follow and that the topic needs more attention in order to combat the spread of eating disorders. (as)