New study says body dysmorpia is linked to eating disorders

New study says body dysmorphia is linked to eating disorders.

Body dysmorphia is usually characterized by low body self-confidence.


The rate of body dysmorphia is 12 times higher among gym-goers with eating issues

Women are more prone to symptoms of body dysmorphia than men.

People with eating disorders are 12 times more likely to be preoccupied with perceived flaws in their physical appearance than those without, according to new research published in the journal of Eating and Weight Disorders. 

Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) surveyed about 1,665 health club members recruited via social media. They found the number of people with body dysmorphic disorder – a mental condition marked by obsession with perceived flaws in appearance which are not noticed by others – was 12 times higher among people with suspected eating disorders.

Around 30% of participants had indicated eating disorders, and the researchers noted that 76% of those people also suffered from body dysmorphia.

The paper also found no significant associations between body dysmorphia, sexuality and social media use, although there was association with gender, with women being more likely to show symptoms of dysmorphia. 

Lead author Mike Trott, PhD researcher in Sports Science at ARU, said:

“Body dysmorphia can result in anxiety, stress, and reduced quality of life. While sufferers of eating disorders, such as anorexia (low appetite) and bulimia nervosa (overeating), share similar traits to those with dysmorphia, research into any correlation between the two is sparse.

“Healthcare professionals working with people with body dysmorphia should screen them for eating disorders regularly, as this research shows a strong correlation between the two.”


This study provides more evidence of the complex relationship that exists between body dymorphia and eating disorders.

It is recommended that practitioners working with body dysmorphia patients should also screen for eating disorders.


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