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Anorexia and bulimia cases outnumbered by other eating disorders

Anorexia and bulimia may be the two most well known eating disorders but they are not the most common, a new study reveals.

The research, published online in BMJ Open, found that the number of people being diagnosed with eating disorders rose every year between 200 and 2009 and most complaints involve unspecified disorders that cannot be classed as bulimia or anorexia.

A lack of studies on eating disorders led researchers to investigate how many people in the UK were diagnosed with bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and other disorders.

The team wanted to show how the incidences changed during the 10-year period, and what genders and ages were involved in order to help doctors detect and treat the condition, which has the highest death rates of all mental disorders.

They used the General Practice Database, which holds the medical records of 5% of the total population, to find that there were 9,072 cases over the decade. Diagnosis rates rose each year from 32.3 cases in every 100,000 people at the turn of the millennium to 37.2 per 100,000 in 2009.

While research elsewhere found a drop in bulimia cases, the new study suggested that rates of anorexia and bulimia remained relatively constant over the 10-year period and the rises were caused by increases in other, unspecified eating disorders. Very little research has been carried out on these other disorders, even though they make up 60% of all cases seen by UK hospitals.

It is thought that the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) will mean unclassified disorder cases will either be diagnosed as bulimia, anorexia or a new binge eating disorder in the future and the latest research tells doctors that the main ages to concentrate on are girls aged between 15 and 19 and boys between the ages of 10 and 14, as these age groups showed the highest number of eating disorder cases.

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