Abstract

Anorexia nervosa is a geographically distinct psychiatric disorder; it is rapidly increasing in incidence in Western countries, while being virtually unreported in China, or in the Chinese community of Hong Kong. This is surprising when the Chinese preoccupation with food and their reported readiness to somatise dysphoria are considered. Three Chinese anorectics born and living in Hong Kong and exhibiting mostly typical clinical features are reported. The rarity of the disorder in the East could be related to protective biological and socio-cultural factors specific to the Chinese, and while it may become more common, anorexia nervosa is unlikely to reach Western proportions.