International Association of Healthcare Professionals Medical Conferences
International Association of Healthcare Professionals Medical Conferences

Eating Disorders in the Community:  Analysis of Epidemiological Issues

In the Proceedings of the IAHCP 26th Annual Scientific Meeting and Conference, Blackpool, UK, 18 – 21 July 2015


Eating Disorders in the Community:  Analysis of Epidemiological Issues, by Maria Jana Kingsley-Godwin


Maria Jana Kingsley-Godwin informed conference that the objective of her study was to evaluate the epidemiological issues in eating disorders in the community. She carried this study out by a systematic clinical review of the literature.


Conference was told that Maria Jana carried out a systematic literature review of online databases such as Medline and EMBASE, and that she visited specialist library sources, journals, magazines, theses, grey literature, various published and unpublished materials and expert opinions.


The methods used by Maria Jana involved questions on issues affecting eating disorders which were formulated to undertake the clinical systematic review.  The questions included: the types of eating, causes of eating disorders, prevention, prevalence, health issues, and impacts on society including cost of treatments for eating disorders. She told conference of the systematic review of the literature she performed; evaluating online databases, printed journals and articles, online journals, books, published and unpublished materials, theses, magazines, grey literature from 1966 to 2015, and expert opinions on various clinical capacities.   Over 2,800 data dealing the above questions were generated.  The data obtained was ranked in order of superiority and evidence grading levels in order to reach the best data for each question asked.


Conference was then made aware of the results. Firstly, although eating disorders are increasing all over the world among both men and women, she pointed out that there is evidence to suggest that it is women in the Western world who are at the highest risk of developing them and the degree of westernisation increases the risk. Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder.


Maria Jana continued by explaining to conference that eating disorders result in about 7,000 deaths a year as of 2010 in the USA, making them the mental illness with the highest mortality rate in the USA, UK, Europe and elsewhere.  Treatment for eating disorders is available, although recovering from an eating disorder can take a long time. It is important for the person affected to want to get better, and the support of family and friends is invaluable.


Maria Jana went on to explain that treatment usually involves monitoring a person’s physical health while helping them to deal with the underlying psychological causes. This may involve:

  • using self-help manuals and books, possibly under guidance from a therapist or other healthcare professional
  • cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – therapy that focuses on changing how someone thinks about a situation, which in turn will affect how they act
  • interpersonal psychotherapy – a talking therapy that focuses on relationship-based issues
  • dietary counselling – a talking therapy to help people maintain a healthy diet
  • psychodynamic therapy – counselling that focuses on how a person’s personality and life experiences influence their current thoughts, feelings, relationships and behaviour
  • family therapy – therapy involving the family discussing how the eating disorder has affected them and their relationships
  • medication – for example, a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be used to treat bulimia nervosa or binge eating

There are a range of other healthcare services that can help, such as support and self-help groups, and personal and telephone counselling services.


In conclusion Maria Jana emphasised that the results showed that eating disorders are psychological illnesses defined by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual's physical and mental health. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder, followed by the more widely recognised bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa, respectively.   Five more minor forms of eating disorders fall under the umbrella category, Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. While proper treatment can be highly effective for many suffering from specific types of eating disorders, the consequences of eating disorders can be severe, including death (whether from direct medical effects of disturbed eating habits or from comorbid conditions such as suicidal thinking).


Correspondence: Maria Jana Kingsley-Godwin, Author and Medical Writer, London, England, UK






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