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Disordered Eating

Prevalence and correlates of disordered eating in a general population sample: the South East London Community Health (SELCoH) study (2014)

F. Solmi, S. Hatch, M. Hotopf, J. Treasure and N. Micali



Disordered eating has been shown to be more prevalent than full eating disorders diagnoses. However, research on its prevalence, socio-demographic, psychological correlates, and patterns of service use in multi-ethnic samples is still limited. This paper explores these associations in a South London-based (UK) sample.

How was the study conducted?

The South East London Community Health (SELCoH) study is a general population survey (N = 1,698) of individuals aged 16+. Disordered eating was defined as ≥2 positive answers at the SCOFF questionnaire. Crude and adjusted logistic and multinomial logistic regression models were fit to investigate associations between socio-demographic characteristics, disordered eating, psychiatric comorbidity, and service use.

What did we find?

A total of 164 (10 %) participants reported disordered eating and the majority were from ethnic minorities. In adjusted models, Asian ethnicity was associated with purging, loss of control eating and preoccupation with food. Individuals with disordered eating had higher odds of screening positive for post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders and of having anxiety/mood disorders, suicidal ideation/attempts, hazardous levels of drinking, and used drugs in the previous year. Only 36 % of individuals with disordered eating had sought professional help in the previous 12 months mostly through their general practitioner (27.4 %), followed by psychotherapists (12.8 %) and mental health specialists (5.5 %).


This study found a high prevalence of disordered eating, especially amongst ethnic minorities, and associations with a number of psychiatric conditions. Overall few participants accessed specialist services. These findings suggest that both disordered eating manifestations amongst ethnic minorities and access to care need better investigation.


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