Disordered eating leads to overall poorer well-being according to new study
Eating disorders are often thought about in a vacuum. We talk about the behaviors and mental conditions that can contribute to the development of disordered eating, but we typically forget to discuss the cornucopia of health issues that can develop out of eating disorders themselves.
However, as a new European study shows, disordered eating is tied to a number of long-term negative health effects that can have severe effects on a person’s overall life and happiness.
As a team of researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland reports in the journal European Eating Disorders Review, disordered eating can lead to worse psychological well-being and physical health, as well as higher weight and waist circumference.
To determine this, the team reviewed extensive data from the FinnTwin 16 study, which included information from more than 4,900 Finnish men and women. The participants of the study answered surveys regarding their eating behaviors, weight, health, and overall well-being at age 24 and ten years after, at 34.
The results indicated that both men and women with disordered eating at age 24 were more likely to have higher body weight, largest waist circumference, and lower psychological well-being. Men also reported a lower self-evaluation of their overall health.
“Previous research has established that low psychological wellbeing and a poor self-evaluation of health are predictors of higher susceptibility to physical illness and mortality,” commented Kärkkäinen.
“Disordered eating is often seen as harmless as it is so common,” added Kärkkäinen. “However, it seems that disordered eating may have far-reaching negative effects on the general health and wellbeing of young adults. Even if the symptoms do not constitute a clinical eating disorder, early recognition and treatment is important, also for men.”