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Eating disorder patients more likely to steal or commit other crimes, finds study

08-21-17 Category: Anxiety, Treatment Centers

Eating disorder patients more likely to steal or commit other crimes, finds study

Eating disorders are common across the United States. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), about 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Eating disorders are life-threatening conditions that affect an individual’s emotional as well as physical health.

Now, a new study involving Swedish women suggests that individuals living with eating disorders are at a greater likelihood of being convicted of theft and other crimes. Researchers carried out the study, published online in the International Journal of Eating Disorders in August 2017, in an attempt to evaluate epidemiological associations between anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) and possibilities of committing theft across the nationwide female population.

The researchers observed 957,106 females born in the country between 1979 to 1998 and then followed them up from the time they turned 15 years for up to 20 years. Information on conditions, including co-occurring mental health problems, was procured using national data. The researchers then evaluated and approximated hazard ratios of criminal behavior in exposed versus unexposed females by making use of Cox regression methods.

The prevalence of conviction for theft and other crimes was 12 percent and 7 percent respectively in people suffering from anorexia, 18 percent and 13 percent in those living with bulimia, and 5 percent and 6 percent in those sans eating disorders. After making adjustments for co-occurring mental illnesses, in addition to other potential factors, higher degree of associations with crimes was found in both cases of AN and BN.

Findings warrant further research

The findings pinpoint at how people exhibiting symptoms of eating disorders are at a greater risk of being convicted of crimes like theft. The observations warrant further research into the habits of eating disorder patients and the need to regularly screen them for possible anomalies in their behavior. The authors feel that the government must encourage research on mechanisms that form the basis of the association between crime and eating disorder habits while trying to find out lasting treatment methods.

“Our results highlight forensic issues as an adversity associated with eating disorders. Criminal convictions can compound disease burden and complicate treatment. Clinicians should be sure to conduct routine reviews of criminal history during assessments for eating disorders,” said Shuyang Yao, lead author of the study.

Treating eating disorders

There are mainly three types of eating disorders – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Some common warning signs of eating disorders include abnormal eating habits, vomiting, compulsive exercise patterns, changes in food preferences, avoidance of situations involving food, focus on body shape and weight and social withdrawal, among others. People living with eating disorders are afraid to share their problems fearing criticism and backlash. However, people should be made aware of the fact that it is a psychological problem.

It is possible to treat eating disorders by recommending customized treatment options tailored to meet a patient’s needs. Sovereign Health is a leading behavioral health care provider in the U.S. Our experts at the anorexia rehabilitation centers analyze patients’ needs by taking into account the nature and grievousness of problems they may be facing while trying to find out the root causes of the disorder. In addition, physicians serving at our treatment centers for bulimia advice early treatment to prevent exacerbation of the problem. For more information about the same, you may call our 24/7 helpline number or get in touch with our online representatives.

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