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August 2021

Med J Aust. 1987 Dec 7-21; 147(11-12): 540-2.

Vegetarianism in anorexia nervosa? A review of 116 consecutive cases.

O'Connor MA, Touyz SW, Dunn SM, Beumont PJ.

Department of Nutrition, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, NSW.

A retrospective study was carried out of 116 consecutive patients with anorexia nervosa to ascertain the extent and nature of vegetarianism in this population. Sixty-three (54.3%) patients were found to be avoiding red meat. In only four (6.3%) of these did meat avoidance predate the onset of their anorexia nervosa. Of the remaining 59 patients (best termed pseudovegetarians), 25 (42.4%) patients continued to avoid red meat by the end of treatment. Pseudovegetarianism was associated with a longer duration of anorexia nervosa, a lower weight during the course of their illness, and living away from the parental home. The reintroduction of red meat into the diet was more likely if vegetarianism were of a short duration.

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