Two studies point to a need for improvement.
Recently, Polish nutritionists wondered, how much do people with eating disorders know about nutrition? Do age, education, type of eating disorder, or body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) play a role? (Rocz Panstw Zaki Hig. 2019; 70:41).
Dr. Beata Calyniuk and colleagues at the Medical University of Silesia, Kantowice, Poland, assessed knowledge of nutrition using a survey questionnaire designed by Dr. Calyniuk. The 33-question instrument was published on the Internet in one of the social media portals in the “Eating disorders-tackling” group, which includes people with all types of eating disorders.
The authors found that the least-informed group were people younger than 20 years of age, and those who lived in medium-sized cities with populations between 20,000 and 100,000. Respondents with a vocational education were least informed about nutrition, and those with normal body mass indexes scored highest on knowledge of nutrition in eating disorders. Overall, the authors reported, their study showed that nutrition knowledge was selective and not enough to provide appropriate food choices to meet nutritional needs.
Their findings echoed those of an earlier 6-month study of 182 adolescents with and without eating disorders and their parents (Int J Adolesc Med Health2015; 27:11). The study was conducted in a suburban adolescent medicine office. Eighteen basic questions about nutrition were presented to the teens and their parents. Neither teens with or without an ED correctly answered more than 50% of the questions. Also, fewer than 16% of respondents in either group correctly answered questions about appropriate intake of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Both studies findings underscored the importance of teaching patients about healthy lifestyles and nutrition and thoroughly discussing all nutrients, their functions, and effects on the body.