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New Facts about Eating Disorders

According to a recent study done by researchers at the University of Southampton and the Solent NHS Trust, women experiencing financial difficulties are more likely to develop an eating disorder.

eating disorders and money

This study, led by clinical psychologist Dr. Thomas Richardson, examined college age women in the UK. The results, published in The International Journal of Eating Disorders, are a telling look into an often misunderstood area of mental health.

What the Study Found

The study itself was conducted on more than four hundred undergraduate college students from across the UK. Researchers complied information on family affluence, current money troubles, and attitudes towards food (measured using the Eating Attitudes Test).

Participants completed research surveys between one and four times at intervals of three months apart. It’s safe to say Dr. Richardson and his researchers were thorough.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of information uncovered by this new study is the “vicious cycle” aspect of financial insecurity and eating disorders. This came to light when researchers determined that not only do financial difficulties increase the chance a woman will develop an eating disorder, but extreme attitudes regarding food are indicative of future financial trouble.

In layman’s terms, this means that a lack of money can trigger an eating disorder and an eating disorder can further contribute to a lack of money. This may lead to a vicious cycle of financial insecurity, harmful eating, and further financial insecurity.

Aside from the interesting cyclical nature of eating disorders and financial troubles, researchers also discovered:

  • Alarming eating attitudes occur more frequently in women from lower income families
  • In fact, a lower median family income led to increased potentially harmful eating behavior in later surveys
  • Increased financial insecurity in initial surveys led to troubling attitudes towards food in later surveys
  • The higher an individual’s Eating Attitudes Test score was initially, the higher their level of financial insecurity in the second survey
  • All surveys indicated that financial troubles and eating disorders are linked in women, but not in men

Dr. Richardson had the following to say about his findings,

“There may be a ‘vicious cycle’ for these students, where negative attitudes towards eating increase the risk of financial difficulties in the short term, and those difficulties further exacerbate negative eating attitudes in the longer term” (Medical Express).

Recovery Options

So, what does this information mean for recovery from eating disorders? After all, it’s easy to identify a problem, but fixing it is a bit harder!

Well, this new study shows just how much power money has in our culture. If worrying over money can increase a woman’s risk of developing an eating disorder, well, then something needs to change.

So, women struggling with disordered eating should be able to receive financial assistance. While this is sometimes the case, thanks for family support or treatment centers offering scholarships, it’s not always the case. Let’s change that! Let’s petition the government, or other federal resources, to offer financial assistance for those in early-recovery!

Obviously, this can get dicey. An addict in early-sobriety doesn’t need access to large amounts of cash. With the proper oversight, though, this could be a valid option for decreasing financial trouble for women in early-recovery!

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