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

J Psychosom Res. 2005 Aug;59(2):57-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2004.04.375.


Objective: 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.

Methods: 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).

Results: 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.

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

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cost of Illness
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires