Eating disorder incidence in the UK is increasing, with more cases that do not reach the threshold for either anorexia or bulimia, a study published in BMJ Open suggests.
Data from the General Practice Database shows that in 2000 there were 32.2 new cases of eating disorder per 100,000 people aged between 10-49.
By 2009 there was a steady rise to 37.2 new cases per 100,000.
Despite other research suggesting a decrease in the incidence of bulimia, the incidence of bulimia and anorexia remained stable over the 10 years and it was new cases of eating disorder not otherwise specified which were responsible for the overall rise.
The incidence of these unspecified eating disorders, which have been far less studied than bulimia and anorexia and are the most common type seen in hospital care (60% of cases seen in specialist services), has not been estimated previously in general practice care.
The data showed that girls aged 15 to 19 years and boys aged 10 to 14 had the highest incidences of new diagnoses of eating disorder.
“Two girls in every 1,000 aged 15 to 19 years are likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder every year, which means that there are around 4610 new cases in girls of this age group each year,” said lead researcher Dr Nadia Micali from University College London.
She added: “As a result, eating disorder is probably the most common new onset mental health disorder in adolescent girls after depression.”
A full copy of The incidence of eating disorders in the UK in 2000–2009: ﬁndings from the General Practice Research Database is available on the BMJ Open website.