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7th March 2015

Correlation between financial pressure and eating disorders

Scores in the Eating Attitude Test show that female students with financial problems are most at risk of acquiring an eating disorder

Recently, The University of Southampton and Solent NHS Trust carried out an assessment on 400 undergraduate students at universities across the country.

They asked them to answer questions in the Eating Attitude Test (EAT) relating to their daily lives. Once the test results had been collected they were published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders and analysed.

The analysis showed that there is a link between financial problems and eating disorders.

More specifically it showed that women from a lower socio-economic class were more liable to develop an eating disorder. Interestingly, the same findings did not apply to men coming from a lower socio-economic background.

Conclusions lead analysers to suggest a vicious cycle between initial anxieties about food, prompting short-term financial pressure, which would then elicit negative eating attitudes in the long-run.

The leader of the study, Dr Thomas Richardson, said this: “It may be that those at higher risk of having an eating disorder feel like they have no control over events in their life, such as their financial situation, and they may then restrict their eating as a way of exercising control in other areas of their life.”

Financial problems were defined in the study as frequently having to borrow more money to get by on and often going without eating. An eating disorder was defined as ‘I feel extremely guilty after eating’ and ‘I am preoccupied with a desire to be thinner’.

This comes as big news as it was recently revealed that eating disorders cost the country a total of £15 billion due to the financial burden of sufferers, their carers as well as lost income to the economy. This financial loss, however, does not reflect the human cost as many sufferers report a much better quality of life after treatment.

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