Past Issues

Studies on Eating Disorders in Taiwan: Measurements, Epidemiology, Comorbidities,and Health-care Use

Chao-Ying Tu, Mei-Chih Meg Tseng

Background: Eating disorder (ED) is a disease entity with substantial physical and psychosocial morbidity, while it has remained underdetected by clinicians in Taiwan. To improve the detection and treatment of EDs by health-care professionals in Taiwan, we reviewed ED studies in Taiwan, including epidemiology, measurements, correlates, comorbidities, and health-care use. Methods: A literature review was done using PubMed. The main inclusion criteria were studies that focused on EDs and disordered eating attitudes/behaviors and were done in Taiwan. Results: Several frequently used ED measurements had well-established Mandarin Chinese versions, and they all had sound psychometric properties. Disordered eating attitudes/behaviors have been prevalent in Taiwanese adolescents and college students, but EDs were detected at an older age compared to that in Western countries. Having a diagnosis of ED and higher ED symptom severity are associated with increased comorbidity burden. All patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) have sought treatment for physical problems while less than half have sought treatment for mental health problems. Studies have also shown a 2–4-fold higher total costs in patients with AN/BN than individuals without EDs. Conclusion: More effort is needed to detect individuals with AN and BN at a younger age in Taiwan. Programs targeting at the influence of family, peers, and media on the body image of children/adolescents and young adults await establishment. We also need to build more educational programs to improve ED literacy in both health-care professionals and the general public for early detection and timely treatments of Eds by mental health professionals.
Key Word anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, comorbidities, eating behaviors
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