"Comfort" Eating, Eating Disorders Widespread

Aug 26, 2004 10:41 AM EDT

A recent British survey found that close to one half of adults ate food to influence their negative moods.

43% of adults eat for "comfort"

The survey, conducted by the Priory Clinic and British Eating Disorders Association, reported that 43% of British adults eat to change their mood—but a quarter have feelings of guilt after eating. Also, close to 11% of those surveyed feel the route to happiness is to be thinner.

The survey of 2,000 people showed 47% of adolescents aged 16 to 24 and 40% of those aged 35 to 44 had eaten because they were bored. A quarter of women and people aged 45 to 54 have eaten because they were stressed. Others ate after arguing with their spouse or partner.

Rise in eating disorders

The Priory Group has witnessed a significant rise in young female patients aged 17 to 30 presenting with both eating disorders and addictions. They report an increase in patients who are slightly underweight, binge and vomit, and then fast to the point of near-starvation.

With wildly fluctuating symptoms—reflecting an ongoing struggle with weight, eating and emotions—the patients' symptoms often go unnoticed by their doctors and those close to them.

The groups suggest that a drastic change in the image of typical eating disorder patients needs to be made.

He said the medical profession needs to change its stereotyped image of the typical eating disordered patient.


1. bbc.co.uk/health