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Comorbidity of self-harm and disordered eating in young people: Evidence from a UK population-based cohort

By Naomi Warne, Jon Heron, Becky Mars, Paul Moran, Anne Stewart, Marcus R Munafo, Lucy Biddle, Andy Skinner, David Gunnell, Helen Bould

Posted 10 Jul 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.08.20148908

Self-harm and eating disorders are often comorbid in clinical samples but their co-occurrence in the general population is unclear. We assessed the co-occurrence of self-harm and disordered eating behaviours at age 16 and 24 years in 3384 females and 2326 males from a UK population-based cohort. There was substantial overlap at both time points: almost two-thirds of 16-year-old females, and two-in-five 24-year old males who self-harmed also reported disordered eating. Among young people, self-harm may signal the occurrence of disordered eating and vice versa. It is important to screen for both sets of difficulties to provide appropriate treatment.

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