Self-harm and disordered eating commonly co-occur in young people

  • Warne N & al.
  • J Affect Disord
  • 7 Jan 2021

  • curated by Pavankumar Kamat
  • UK Medical News
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A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders suggests that self-harm and disordered eating behaviours commonly co-occur in adolescents and young adults in the UK.

Researchers investigated the co-occurrence of self-harm and disordered eating in 3384 females and 2326 males identified from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children cohort. Data on self-harm and disordered eating behaviours in the last year were collected using a questionnaire at ages 16 and 24 years.

At age 16 years, 29.9 per cent of females and 23.7 per cent of males with disordered eating reported concurrent self-harm versus 8.3 per cent of females and 4.0 per cent of males without disordered eating. At age 24 years, 16.1 per cent of females and 11.1 per cent of males with any disordered eating reported concurrent self-harm versus 6.0 per cent of females and 3.6 per cent of males without disordered eating.

Moreover, at age 16 years, 63.7 per cent of females and 32.7 per cent of males who had self-harmed reported concurrent disordered eating versus 27.1 per cent of females and 6.1 per cent of males who had not self-harmed. At age 24 years, 60.9 per cent of females and 41.9 per cent of males who had self-harmed reported concurrent disordered eating versus 34.3 per cent of females and 18.0 per cent of males who had not self-harmed.

"Health professionals should be aware of this comorbidity and ensure that young people presenting with either self-harm or disordered eating are asked about both behaviours in order to provide appropriate treatment and management," the authors stated.