High prevalence of shoplifting in patients with eating disorders
Shoplifting, prevalent in patients diagnosed with bulimia nervosa (BN), is a serious behavioral problem in eating disorder (ED) patients. However, little is known about its overall presence, etiology, and consequences. This study aimed to determine whether shoplifting occurs before or after the onset of ED and to investigate the prevalence and correlates of shoplifting in ED patients.
This was a cross-sectional study of 284 treatment-seeking female patients aged 13–45 with EDs [171 anorexia nervosa (AN); 113 BN]. Shoplifting, impulsive behaviors (self-injury, suicide attempt, sexual promiscuity, alcohol, and illicit drug use), depression, self-esteem, and clinical features of EDs were assessed with an interview.
Lifetime shoplifting prevalence was 28.5% (81/284) with 70.4% (57/81) occurring before ED onset. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that depression [odds ratio (OR), 2.63; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.24–5.60], alcohol abuse (OR, 3.91; 95% CI 1.34–11.38), illicit substance use (OR, 14.42; 95% CI, 1.65–125.86), and self-esteem (OR, 0.90; 95% CI; 0.82–0.99) were associated with lifetime shoplifting, while illness duration, BN, and ED symptom severity were not.
Shoplifting is common in ED patients and precedes ED onset in most patients with a shoplifting history, although the causal relationship between shoplifting and EDs remains inconclusive. Shoplifting may be associated with impulsive behaviors (e.g., alcohol and illicit drug use), depression, and low self-esteem, but not with ED severity. Future research should focus on the unrecognized role of shoplifting as a marker to identify patients at risk of impulsive behaviors and consider treatment options.
Level of evidence
Level V, observational cross-sectional descriptive study.
KeywordsShoplifting Japanese Impulsive behavior Anorexia nervosa Bulimia nervosa
We would like to thank Editage (http://www.editage.com) for English language editing and Publication Support.
This research did not receive any specific Grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- 5.Yao S, Kuja-Halkola R, Thornton LM, Norring C, Almqvist C, D’Onofrio BM, Lichtenstein P, Långström N, Bulik CM, Larsson H (2017) Risk of being convicted of theft and other crimes in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: a prospective cohort study in a Swedish female population. Int J Eat Disord 50:1095–1103. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.22743 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 8.Casper RC, Eckert ED, Halmi KA, Goldberg SC, Davis JM (1980) Bulimia its incidence and clinical importance in patients with anorexia nervosa. Arch Gen Psychiatry 37:1030–1035. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780220068007 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 15.Takagi S (2012) Eating disorders and problem behavior. J Clin Exp Med (Igaku no ayumi) 241:714–718 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
- 16.Suzuki K, Takeda A (2010) The clinical characteristics of and treatment for habitual shoplifting in patients with eating disorders. Seishin Igaku 52:647–654 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
- 18.Blanco C, Grant J, Petry NM, Simpson HB, Alegria A, Liu SM, Hasin D (2008) Prevalence and correlates of shoplifting in the United States: results from the National Epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions (NESARC). Am J Psychiatry 165:905–913. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2008.07101660 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 20.Nagata T, Kiriike N, Matsunaga H, Iketani T, Yoshida M, Yamagami S (1994) Clinical trial of the eating disorder inventory (EDI) in patients with eating disorders. Jpn J Clin Psychiatry 23:897–803 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
- 21.Nakai Y (1997) Eating Disorder Inventory scores in eating disorders. Clin Psychiatry 39:47–50 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
- 25.Okamoto H (2013) Stealing behavior in patients with eating disorders. Osaka City Med J 62:7–14 (in Japanese)Google Scholar