This review summarizes and contextualizes the recent epidemiologic data on eating disorders in the Asia and Pacific regions.
Gaps in epidemiologic data on eating disorders from the Asia and Pacific regions stem, in part, from omission of eating disorder-specific assessments in large nationally representative cohort studies of mental disorders. Available data – often from clinical and school-going cohorts – support that the prevalence of both eating disorders and associated attitudes and behaviors in many Asian and Pacific regions studied may be comparable to those reported in Europe and North America. Moreover, the prevalence of eating disorders in some regions of Asia may be increasing. Some of the national and subnational regions with the highest annual percent increases in disability-adjusted life years per 100 000 caused by eating disorders over the past two decades are located in Asia.
Notwithstanding sparse epidemiologic data concerning eating disorders in Asia and the Pacific, available evidence supports comparable prevalence to other global regions and that associated health burdens in some regions of Asia may be rising. This further supports that eating disorders are trans-national in distribution and challenges the previous understanding that they were primarily culture-bound to the Global North.
aEating Disorders Clinical and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital
bDepartment of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
cDepartment of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
dDepartment of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Correspondence to Dr Anne E. Becker, MD, PhD, SM, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 641 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Tel: +1 617 432 1009; e-mail: Anne_becker@hms.harvard.edu