This review describes the prevalence of eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors as well as factors influencing body image disturbance amongst Japanese adolescents and compares the prevalence and trends with those of Westernized countries. Although eating disorders have been previously regarded as peculiar to Western society, they are now a more global issue with reports of non-Western countries including Japan having increasing rates of eating disorders. As the aetiology of eating disorders is related to societal norms, culture and ethnicity, their study requires an understanding of body image disturbance within different cultural contexts. Although considered less prevalent than in the West, Japan has an early history of eating disorder research and trends outlined in this review suggest that, as in Western countries the interest in, and study of eating disorders in Japan has increased during the 1980s. The prevalence of eating disorders in Japan based on available reviews, epidemiological studies and clinical reports ranges from 0.025% to 0.2% for AN and from 1.9% to 2.9% for BN. Studies suggest that the prevalence of eating disorders has increased significantly during the past two decades but the prevalence is still quite low compared to those in Western countries. Strategies for culturally appropriate prevention are discussed.
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