Surveys looking into the prevalence of drug abuse usually ask people about the costs associated with their drug or alcohol use. These can include problems with physical and mental health, friendships and social life, home life and marriage, work, studies, financial well-being and housing. However, these questions are not usually asked in studies about eating disorders. A Canadian study of 1,043 women, aged between 18 and 25 asked them about their dieting, bingeing, vomiting and laxative-using behaviour as well as their use of alcohol, cigarettes and cannabis. The women were all asked how they felt these activities impeded their friendships and social lives, their physical health,their family relationships, their studies, work or employment, their financial situation and their happiness. The researchers found that the percentages of women who reported adverse consequences relating to eating disordered behaviour were comparable, if not higher, than the percentages of women who reported adverse consequences related to their substance use suggesting that future surveys into the prevalence of eating disorders should include questions about their effects on people's lives.
Piran, Niva, Robinson, Shannon R. and Cormier, Holly C. - Disordered eating behaviors and substance use in women : a comparison of perceived adverse consequences Eating Disorders October-December 2007, 15(5), 391-403