Time trends in eating disorder incidence


Background During the years 1988-1993 the primary care incidence of anorexia nervosa in the UK remained stable, but the incidence of bulimia nervosa increased threefold.

Aims To determine whether the incidence of anorexia nervosa remained stable, and that of bulimia nervosa continued to increase, in the years 1994-2000.

Method The General Practice Research Database was screened for new cases of anorexia and bulimia nervosa between 1994 and 2000. Annual incidence rates were calculated for females aged 10-39 years and compared with rates from the previous 5 years.

Results In 2000 primary care incidence rates were 4.7 and 6.6 per 100 000 population for anorexia and bulimia nervosa, respectively. The incidence of anorexia nervosa remained remarkably consistent over the period studied. Overall there was an increase in the incidence of bulimia, but rates declined after a peak in 1996.

Conclusions This study provides further evidence for the stability of anorexia nervosa incidence rates. Decreased symptom recognition and changes in service use might have contributed to observed changes in the incidence of bulimia nervosa.

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