New Australian research into body image and eating disorders in adolescents has found an alarming rise in the prevalence of chewing and spitting out food.

More than one in ten of the cohort of over 5,000 11- to 19-year-olds reported having spat out food at least once per week, with 2.5% having done so four to seven times in the past month and 2.1% at least twice per week.

This is far more than researchers at the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University and Macquarie University were expecting, and is of great concern due to the behaviour’s strong association (both historical and in the study itself) with eating disorders, other abnormal eating behaviours, and psychological distress more broadly.

The eating disorder experts claim that the results indicate a need for chewing and spitting to once again be listed as a symptom of eating disorders, and for mental health professionals to ask patients with eating disorders about the behaviour.

They also advise that parents who notice a pattern of their child chewing and spitting out food they should talk to them and try to determine the cause. Professional care should be sought if the behaviour is due to eating anxiety or body image concerns.

Read the full article by Kate Aubusson: Chew and spit: high rate of eating disorder warning sign among school kids

Feature image Source: Pxhere