Urbanisation and the incidence of eating disorders

Gabrielle E. Van Son*, Daphne Van Hoeken, Aad I. M. Bartelds, Eric F. Van Furth, Hans W. Hoek

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)


    The link between degree of urbanisation and a number of mental disorders is well established. Schizophrenia, psychosis and depression are known to occur more frequently in urban areas. In our primary care-based study of eating disorders, the incidence of bulimia nervosa showed a dose-response relation with degree of urbanisation and was five times higher in cities than in rural areas. Remarkably, anorexia nervosa showed no association with urbanisation. We conclude that urban life is a potential environmental risk factor for bulimia nervosa but not for anorexia nervosa. These findings provide a promising avenue for further research into the aetiology of eating disorders.

    Declaration of interest None.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)562-563
    Number of pages2
    JournalThe British Journal of Psychiatry
    Publication statusPublished - Dec-2006


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