Disordered eating attitudes common in schizophrenia patients
MedWire News: The prevalence of "disordered" eating is more common among antipsychotic-naïve patients with schizophrenia than in the general population, Egyptian research shows.
Writing in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry, Mounir Fawzi and Mohab Fawzi from Zagazig University explain that "data regarding the co-occurrence of eating disorders and schizophrenia, especially when not confounded by the effects of antipsychotics, have generally remained limited; and in a developing country, such as Egypt, these data are almost nonexistent."
To address this, the researchers studied the prevalence of disordered eating attitudes among 50 consecutive antipsychotic-naive patients who attended Zagazig University Hospital between 2009 and 2010 and 50 mentally healthy controls who were matched for age, gender, and area of residence.
All of the participants completed the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT40), and those with schizophrenia were assessed for symptom severity using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS).
Scores on the EAT40 questionnaire range from 0 to 120, with scores of 30 or more indicating a high-risk for eating disorders.
The researchers found that patients with schizophrenia had a mean EAT40 score of 23.4 compared with a mean score of 19.7 in controls.
Furthermore, 30% of patients with schizophrenia had an EAT40 score of 30 or higher compared with just 12% of controls.
There were no significant differences in demographic variables between schizophrenia patients at high risk for eating disorders and those who were not.
However, schizophrenia patients at high risk for eating disorders had higher total scores on the PANSS than those who were not, at 86 versus 79.
The researchers conclude: "Data of this study show, perhaps for the first time, that 'disordered' eating attitudes, as measured by the EAT40, are higher in a group of Egyptian patients with schizophrenia than in controls."
They add that "the presence of disordered eating behavior in patients with schizophrenia is associated with the expression of more active psychotic symptoms."
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By Mark Cowen