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J Adolesc Health. 2005 Nov;37(5):417-27.

Partial eating disorders among adolescents: a review.

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Groupe de Recherche sur la Santé des Adolescents, Institut Universitaire de Médecine Sociale et Préventive, Lausanne, Switzerland.



Many adolescents do not fulfill all the DSM-IV criteria's for anorexia nervosa and bulimia, but do nevertheless suffer from partial eating disorders (EDs). This review focuses on the definition, epidemiology and clinical aspects of these disorders.


Search on Medline & PsycINFO, review of websites, screening of bibliographies of articles and book chapters.


There is still no consensus on the definition of these disorders, which cover a wide range of severity. Affected adolescents often suffer from physical and psychological problems owing to co-morbidity or as a consequence of their eating patterns: chronic constipation, dyspeptic symptoms, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headaches, hypotension, menstrual dysfunction as well as dysthymia, depressive and anxiety disorders, or substance misuse and abuse. In comparison with those who are unaffected, adolescents with partial ED are at higher risk of evolving into full ED. However, most of them evolve into spontaneous remission. Adolescents with partial ED engaged, over a period of several months, in potentially unhealthy weight-control practices, suffering from intense fear of gaining weight and a disturbed body weight/image should be offered therapeutic support.


Future research should focus on the exact delineation of various subtypes of clinical presentations in partial ED and on evidence-based treatment and follow-up of these various situations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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