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Masheb RM, Ramsey CM, Marsh AG, Decker SE, Maguen S, Brandt CA, Haskell SG. DSM-5 eating disorder prevalence, gender differences, and mental health associations in United States military veterans. The International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2021 Jul 1; 54(7):1171-1180.
OBJECTIVE: Little is known about prevalence estimates of new and revised DSM-5 eating disorders diagnoses in general, and especially among high-risk, underserved and diverse eating disorder populations. The aim of the current study was to determine prevalence, gender differences and correlates of DSM-5 eating disorders in veterans. METHOD: Iraq and Afghanistan war era veterans (N = 1,121, 51.2% women) completed the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale-5 and validated measures of eating pathology and mental health between July 2014 and September 2019. RESULTS: Overall more women than men (32.8% vs. 18.8%, p? < .001) reported symptoms consistent with a DSM-5 eating disorder. Prevalence estimates (women vs. men) for the specific diagnoses were: Anorexia Nervosa (AN; 0.0% vs. 0.0%), Bulimia Nervosa (BN; 6.1% vs. 3.5%), Binge-Eating Disorder (BED; 4.4% vs. 2.9%), Atypical AN (AAN; 13.6% vs. 4.9%), Subclinical BN (0.0% vs. 0.2%), Subclinical BED (1.4% vs. 0.6%), Purging Disorder (2.1% vs. 0.7%), and Night Eating Syndrome (NES; 5.2% vs. 6.0%). Women were more likely to have BN or AAN, and there was no difference for BED or NES among genders. The eating disorder group had a higher mean BMI, and significantly greater eating pathology and mental health symptoms than the non-eating disorder group. DISCUSSION: Approximately one-third of women, and one-fifth of men, reported symptoms consistent with a DSM-5 eating disorder diagnosis. These high prevalence estimates across genders, and associated mental health concerns, suggest an urgent need to better understand and address eating disorders in military and veteran populations.