Sovereign Health Group Blog

Increased risk of criminality in women with eating disorders, says study

09-05-17 Category: Eating Disorders, Mental Health, Research

Increased risk of criminality in women with eating disorders, says study

Complex mental disorders, like eating disorders, can harm one’s physical health, social ties and day-to-day functioning. Characterized by irregular eating habits and severe distress about one’s body shape or weight, eating disorders can develop during any stage in one’s life and may include inadequate or excessive food intake. Life-threatening in nature, the three common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge eating disorder.

Although eating disorders can severely damage one’s health, there exists a possible relation between these and criminal activities. As per a recent Swedish study, women with eating disorders, such as AN or BN, were four times more likely to be convicted of theft including petty thefts like shoplifting.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 900,000 Swedish women born between 1979 and 1998. They observed these women for up to 20 years and took into consideration their diagnosis of eating disorders, co-occurring psychiatric disorders, convictions of theft or other crimes, and familial relatedness.

Eating disorder linked with higher chances of theft conviction

According to the study, compared to an estimated 5 percent of the participants not affected by eating disorders, 17.97 percent of the participants with BN and 11.60 percent of the participants with AN, were convicted of theft, primarily minor in nature. Additionally, convictions of other crimes in participants with BN stood at 13.17 percent and in participants with AN stood at 7.39 percent.

As compared to unexposed participants, combined incidents of other convictions were also found to be higher among those with AN and BN. Researchers also concluded that those with BN were twice as likely to be convicted of other crimes that could partially be explained by comorbidities.

The study authors felt that while research on criminality in eating disorders is quite limited, increased risk of criminality in women with eating disorders is something to be taken seriously. Convictions can increase a patient’s stress levels, interrupt treatment and hamper recovery. Shuyang Yao, lead author, said, “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.”

Eating disorders can be treated

Complex and devastating, eating disorders affect 20 million women and 10 million men at some point in their lives. Additionally, individuals suffering from eating disorders are also more likely to be affected by mood disorders, substance use disorders (SUD), and other disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This is further corroborated by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), which states that it is common for one to have eating disorders along with one or more other psychiatric disorders that could complicate the treatment process.

A leading behavioral treatment center, Sovereign Health offers comprehensive treatment for eating disorders at its Southern California facilities. Offering evidence-based treatments, Sovereign Health’s eating disorder programs combine cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) along with helping our patients develop healthy lifestyle habits.

In addition to offering traditional therapy to help patients manage their symptoms associated with eating disorders, our team of trained clinicians and onsite dietitian, develop individualized meal plans to help patients understand their personal nutritional needs, plan out their meals, and accept food as a welcome part of their life.

For more information on our holistic eating disorders programs including bulimia rehab or to locate our state-of-the-art anorexia and bulimia rehabilitation centers near you, call our 24/7 helpline. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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