Some 10 to 15 percent of women have disordered eating behaviour and conditions beyond anorexia, according to a study.
“Our results are disquieting. Women are exposed to many contradictory messages. They are encouraged to lose weight, yet also encouraged to eat for the simple pleasure of it,” says Lise Gauvin, professor of social and preventive medicine at the University of Montreal (UM).
Some 1,501 women took part in the phone survey, carried out by UM and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, on eating disorders and disordered eating. Not one participant was classified as anorexic. The average age of these urban-dwelling participants was 31, the majority being non-smokers and university graduates.
Gauvin says the study sheds new light on binge eating and bulimia, which are characterised in part by excessive eating accompanied by feelings of having lost control.
“About 13.7 percent of women interviewed for this study reported binge eating one to five days or one to seven times per month,” she says, noting 2.5 percent of women reported forcing themselves to vomit, use laxatives, or use diuretics to maintain their weight or shape.
The investigation also established that deviant eating behaviours are more likely to occur in women who perceived themselves to be in poor health.
Another finding of the study was that 28 percent of women complete intense exercise twice a month with the sole objective of losing weight, says an UM release.
“We practice a sport for the pleasure it provides, to feel good, but when the activity is done to gain control over one’s weight and figure, it is indicative of someone who could be excessively concerned about their weight,” says Gauvin.
These findings were published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.