The Age of Onset of Eating Disorders
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa typically have their onset during adolescence or young adulthood. A trend towards a decreased of age of onset (AOO) in younger generations has been observed, but, as yet, the impact of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) changes in diagnostic criteria on this trend has not been established. In addition, no data have been reported to date regarding AOO in binge eating disorder (BED; a new eating disorder [ED] diagnosis included in DSM-5). The aim of this chapter is to review the available literature on this topic and analyse a large dataset of eating disordered patients to better characterise the phenomenology of this important feature in this group of patients.
The review of the literature shows that no clear consensus exists in the EDs field regarding the definition of AOO. Although the DSM-5 modifications in diagnostic criteria led to substantial changes in the number of patients with a full ED diagnosis, we confirm a trend towards a decreasing AOO, especially in anorexia nervosa. More heterogeneity of AOO is present in BED than in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, and this seems to be a characterising feature. Further studies are needed to fully understand the impact of AOO on prognosis.
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. The study was performed without any external financial help.
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