Eating attitudes and prevalence of eating disorders: a survey in secondary schools in Lecce, southern Italy

Eat Weight Disord. 1997 Mar;2(1):34-7. doi: 10.1007/BF03339947.


Epidemiological studies on eating disorders in southern Italy are practically non-existent. This study evaluated the eating attitudes and the prevalence of eating disorders in a sample of 795 students (588 females and 207 males) among 6 secondary schools from Lecce. A two-stage study was conducted: a first screening stage followed by a clinical interview. 58.4% of girls and 19.7% of boys displayed dissatisfaction with regard to their own body. Current dieting was more prevalent in girls (18.7%) than in boys (4.8%); 17.9% of normal weight girls and 11.7% of underweight girls were on a restrictive diet; while only 2.5% of normal weight boys were on a diet. Point prevalence rates of eating disorders found in our sample were: 0.2% anorexia nervosa, 1.7% bulimia nervosa, and 4% eating disorders not otherwise specified category. Although southern Italians are stereotypically different from the northern Italians in terms of physical traits, historical, cultural and social backgrounds, the prevalence of eating disorders in southern Italian adolescent sample is surprisingly similar to those reported by the areas of both northern and central Italy as well as other western countries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia Nervosa / epidemiology*
  • Attitude*
  • Bulimia / epidemiology*
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Schools
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*