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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders in a multi-ethnic inner-city UK sample: prevalence, comorbidity and service use (2016)

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



No studies have investigated the prevalence of eating disorders (ED) according to DSM-5 criteria and few have explored their comorbidity and service use in the general population in the UK. We aimed to estimate the prevalence, comorbidity, and service use in individuals with ED in a multi-ethnic inner city sample.

How was the study conducted?

A total of 1698 individuals (age 16/90) were screened for ED in the first phase of the South East London Community Health Study and 145 were followed up with a diagnostic interview. Data was weighed for survey design and Chi Square tests were used to investigate socio-demographic distribution, comorbidity and service use in participants with ED.

What did we find?

The point prevalence of ED was 4.4 % (Binge Eating Disorder (BED) 3.6 %; Bulimia Nervosa (BN) 0.8 %) and 7.4 % when including sub-threshold diagnoses (Purging Disorder (PD) 0.6 %; Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) 2.4 %). No cases of AN were identified. Purging Disorder was the ED with the highest proportion of comorbid disorders. A minority of participants with ED had accessed specialist care services.


ED are common, the comorbidity of ED was in line with previous studies and no ethnic differences were identified. Although PD is not a full diagnosis in DSM-5, we found some evidence of high comorbidity with other disorders, that needs to be replicated using larger samples. Service use was low across ED diagnoses, despite high levels of comorbidity.


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