Skip to Content

Anorexia and bulimia are losing rank among other types of eating disorders


Think of the phrase "eating disorder," and anorexia or bulimia are usually the first two conditions that come to mind.

But new research published online in BMJ Open found that the cases of eating disorders that don't fall under these two categories – largely referred to as Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) – are beginning to climb. In fact, new eating disorder cases reported each year usually fall into this category, the study found.

Very little research on EDNOS

The UK research team wanted to see how incidences of eating disorders changed over a 10-year period, and they also wanted to identify how age groups and genders were affected by each eating disorder.

Using the General Practice Database, a system that contains medical records of 5 percent of the entire country's population, they found 9,072 reported cases of eating disorders over a decade. In 2000, there were 32.3 cases in every 100,000 people. By 2009, that number had risen to 37.2 cases in every 100,000 people.

Even though EDNOS make up about 60 percent of eating disorder cases treated by UK hospitals, there has been very little research conducted on them, the team noted. And while rates of anorexia and bulimia remained relatively stable over the 10-year study period, the rise in eating disorder cases could be attributed mainly to EDNOS.

"EDNOS is the most common [eating disorder] in primary care," the authors wrote. "Our findings have important implications for public health, healthcare provision and understanding the development of [eating disorders]."

Cases of EDNOS may include patients who have symptoms of more than one type of eating disorder, such as anorexia and binge eating disorder, or those who exhibit some – but not all – symptoms of a condition like anorexia or bulimia.

Source: Nursing Times, BMJ Open