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Eating disorders and physical multimorbidity in the English general population.

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Smith, Lee 
López Sánchez, Guillermo F 
Fernandez-Egea, Emilio 
Ford, Tamsin 
Parris, Christopher 


PURPOSE: People with eating disorders may be at increased risk for physical health problems, but there are no data on the relationship between eating disorders and physical multimorbidity (i.e., ≥ 2 physical conditions) and its potential mediators. Thus, we investigated this association in a representative sample of adults from the UK, and quantified the extent to which this can be explained by various psychological and physical conditions, and lifestyle factors. METHODS: Cross-sectional data of the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey were analyzed. Questions from the five-item SCOFF screening instrument were used to identify possible eating disorder. Respondents were asked about 20 physical health conditions. Multivariable logistic regression and mediation analysis were conducted. RESULTS: Data on 7403 individuals aged ≥ 16 years were analyzed [mean (SD) age 46.3 (18.6) years; 48.6% males]. After adjustment, possible eating disorder was associated with 2.11 (95%CI = 1.67-2.67) times higher odds for physical multimorbidity. Anxiety disorder explained the largest proportion this association (mediated percentage 26.3%), followed by insomnia (21.8%), perceived stress (13.4%), depression (13.1%), obesity (13.0%), and alcohol dependence (4.3%). CONCLUSION: Future longitudinal studies are warranted to understand potential causality and the underlying mechanisms in the association between eating disorder and multimorbidity, and whether addressing the identified potential mediators in people with eating disorders can reduce multimorbidity.


Acknowledgements: We would like to thank the National Center for Social Research and the University of Leicester who were the Principal Investigators of this survey. In addition, we would also like to thank the UK Data Archive, the National Center for Social Research, and other relevant bodies for making these data publically available. They bear no responsibility for this analysis or interpretation of this publically available dataset.

Funder: Universidad de Murcia


Adults, Chronic disease, Disordered eating, Eating disorder, Epidemiology, Multimorbidity, UK, Adult, Male, Humans, Female, Cross-Sectional Studies, Multimorbidity, Alcoholism, Feeding and Eating Disorders, Life Style

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Eat Weight Disord

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
European Union (Next Generation EU)