Disordered eating among Australian adolescents: Prevalence, functioning, and help received




Sparti, Claudia
Santomauro, Damian
Cruwys, Tegan
Burgess, Philip M.
Harris, Meredith

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John Wiley & Sons Inc.


Objective To estimate the prevalence of disordered eating (DE) among Australian adolescents and examine associations with clinical mental health problems, problems with functioning, and help received. Method We analyzed data from the Young Minds Matter survey (n = 2,298, 13–17 years). We derived an index of DE severity with four levels: (1) no DE; (2) subclinical DE; (3) suspected eating disorder; and (4) lifetime eating disorder diagnosis. Results In 2013–2014, 31.6% (95%CI 35.5–39.9) of Australian adolescents experienced DE, comprising 25.7% (95%CI 23.9–37.6) with subclinical DE, 11.0% (95%CI 9.7–12.6) with a suspected eating disorder, and 0.9% (95%CI 0.6–1.3) with a lifetime eating disorder diagnosis. DE was more common among girls (41.4%, 95%CI 37.9–44.4) than boys (34.0%, 95%CI 31.1–37.0; p = .002). Adolescents with DE, compared to those without, were more likely to experience clinical mental health problems and problems with functioning. Most adolescents with DE reported help‐seeking in the past year, commonly self‐help; around 40% used school‐based, primary care or specialist services (i.e., formal services). In multivariate analyses, the use of more specialized and intensive services was associated with more severe DE, greater problems with functioning, female gender, and 12‐month mental disorder or subthreshold mental disorder symptoms. Discussion The implementation of mental health promotion and prevention efforts for DE, and screening for DE in school and primary care settings, may facilitate detection and appropriate help‐seeking among adolescents with DE.



adolescents, disordered eating, epidemiology, help-seeking


Sparti C, Santomauro D, Cruwys T, Burgess P, Harris M. Disordered eating among Australian adolescents: Prevalence, functioning, and help received. Int J Eat Disord. 2019;52:246–254. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.23032


International Journal of Eating Disorders


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