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J Psychosom Res. 2005 Aug;59(2):57-64.

Eating disorders and irritable bowel syndrome: is there a link?

Author information

Eating Disorders Research Unit (P059), Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London, UK.



The relationship between eating disorders (ED) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is poorly understood. We wanted to determine the prevalence of IBS in a large sample of eating disordered individuals, examine the timing of onset of these disorders and assess whether there are any predictors of IBS symptoms in ED sufferers.


Participants with a current or past ED were recruited from a volunteer register. Two hundred thirty-four respondents completed a questionnaire on IBS devised for the study. ED symptoms were assessed using the Eating Disorders Examination-Questionnaire (EDE-Q).


Sixty-four percent currently met the widely used Manning criteria for IBS. The majority of participants (87%) had developed their ED before the onset of IBS, with a mean of 10 years between the onset of ED and IBS. All EDE subscales were associated with current IBS symptoms, whereas ED duration was not.


Preliminary findings suggest that EDs may increase the risk of developing IBS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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