Risk of eating disorders in a non-western setting: an exploratory study in Khartoum state, Sudan

Charlotte C. L. Lau, Elena Ambrosino*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose Recent research suggests an emergence of eating disorders [ED] in non-western settings for unknown reasons. This research investigates the presence of ED in Khartoum State [Sudan], and explores relevant factors amongst women at risk of ED and stakeholders involved with mental health care and policy-making.

Methods Women from four summer schools were approached and screened for risk of ED using a validated and adapted form of the Eating Attitudes Test-26. Focus groups were performed within the schools, selected participants at high risk were interviewed, and interviews with stakeholders were performed.

Results Around a third (32.6%) of participants scored as having high risk of ED. Interviews showed recurring themes determining eating attitudes including: intention, knowledge, environment and habit. Stakeholders' opinions depended on whether they work directly with those affected by ED or in policy-making. The former advocated increased attention on ED, the latter did not. Overall, services for ED were lacking.

Conclusions A high presence of negative eating attitudes was found amongst screened participants with high risk of ED. Individual intention overrides all other determinants for abnormal eating. Moreover, evidence suggests that westernization may attribute to ED, supporting the view that ED are culturally bound. The differing stakeholders' views, together with other data found in this study, allow a number of recommendations for increasing awareness and identification of ED in Sudan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-656
Number of pages8
JournalEating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia Bulimia and Obesity
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Eating disorder behaviors
  • Non-western setting
  • Women
  • Sudan
  • Determinants
  • Culture

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