4 signs of an eating disorder in overweight patients

Doctors are missing eating disorders in patients with high BMIs because of outdated stereotypes, says expert

The stereotype of a young, wealthy female with an eating disorder is out of date and needs urgent revision, says a leading Australian psychiatrist and eating disorder specialist.

The oversimplified image means doctors are missing diagnoses in those with high BMIs, writes Professor Phillipa Hay in a commentary in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

“Current diagnostic criteria are informed by 19th and 20th century conceptualisations of eating disorders and a young, thin, wealthy, female demographic,” says Professor Hay, a professor of mental health at Western Sydney University.

“A person with an eating disorder is as likely to be overweight as they are to be a normal weight and is very unlikely to be underweight.”

She says older adults — both men and women — are increasingly at risk of atypical anorexia.

“The status of being underweight is only a