Article

Eating disorders and psychiatric comorbidity among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA.
Women s Health Issues (Impact Factor: 1.61). 07/2012; 22(4):e403-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.whi.2012.04.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Individuals with mental health problems are at elevated risk for eating disorders. Veterans serving in support of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF) have a high prevalence of deployment-related mental health problems, but little is known about their risk for eating disorders. Our aim was to determine rates of eating disorder diagnoses among OEF/OIF veterans with mental health problems, particularly among those with comorbid mental health problems.
This retrospective, cross-sectional analysis of nationwide VA healthcare facilities used descriptive statistics and regression analyses to determine eating disorder rates in OEF/OIF veterans who were new users of VA healthcare from October 7, 2001 to December 31, 2010 (N = 593,739).
Although the prevalence of eating disorder diagnoses was 0.007% (n = 465) in women and <0.001% (n = 192) in men, veterans diagnosed with mental health problems were significantly more likely to have an eating disorder than those without mental health diagnoses. Eating disorders were significantly more common in women with depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and alcohol and/or drug use disorders than in women veterans without these mental health disorders. Among men, the associations between eating disorder diagnoses and comorbid mental health diagnoses closely paralleled those observed in women.
Rates of eating disorders are significantly higher among returning veterans with comorbid mental health problems compared with those without mental health diagnoses. Further research should examine methods to improve detection and treatment of eating disorders in this population.

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Articles on samples of males suffering from obesity were excluded due to the specific nature of eating disorders in this population. In the case of articles containing samples of men and women, only data linked to the male sample was analyzed wherever possible. The results of 34 studies published between 2009 and 2014 were analyzed. Results: The results of studies using self-assessments which define the risk thresholds showed a frequency of eating disorders between 2.7 and 13.3% (Hilbert and Tuschen-Caffier, 2004; Gadalla, 2009; Paulson and Rutledge, 2014) 0060, 0065 and 0070. The frequency of subclinical disorders, in other words eating problems which do not fit all the diagnostic criteria of eating disorders, was 11.8% (Valls et al., in press) [17]. However, few studies indicated the frequency of eating disorders due to the use of self-assessments which do not contain a threshold score. 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