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February 16, 2016

The Rise of Eating Disorders in Asia: A Review

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Contrary to many of the stigmas and myths that are believed about eating disorders, these psychiatric illnesses are not just unique to a particular country or population.

A Global Issue

Eating disorders are a global issue that impact countless individuals across the world and do not discriminate based on gender, culture, or socioeconomic status. Because many different factors influence the development of eating disorders, such as neurobiology and genetics, an individual can be susceptible to developing these diseases without the external influence of society or media.

Another common misconception about eating disorders is that they develop primarily in young Caucasian women in western societies. However, recent research that has studied the development of eating disorders in other countries that have perhaps been increasingly influenced by “Westernization” give a broader understanding as to the relationship between culture and eating disorders as well as the development of eating disorders on a global basis.

Asia’s Developing Concern

According to recent research published in the Journal of Eating Disorders, many Asian countries report an increase in eating disorders, as well as a more widespread weight and shape concerns, dieting behaviors, and disordered eating patterns. Furthermore, many studies have also revealed that overall body dissatisfaction levels and eating attitudes are comparable to that or even worse than those reported by Western cultures.

Sporty outdoor workout womanResearch on eating disorders in Asian countries is still very much in its early stages, and there is undoubtedly a need for continued focus on countries that may not be in the spotlight when it comes to diagnosing and treating eating disorders.

The rise of eating disorders in Asian countries cannot be simplified to Westernization in developing countries; from limited research that has been done, there are several complex factors that are influencing the rise of these psychiatric illnesses on a global basis.

Having a global understanding of eating disorders brings not only greater awareness to the complexity of a disease that knows no boundaries but increases treatment opportunities for those who may be suffering.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What do you think is the importance of understanding eating disorders on a global basis? How does this help individuals who may be suffering in other countries where help is not as prevalent?


Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 15, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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