Commonly diagnosed in young women, socioeconomic factors like income, education, and housing may play a role in the risk. Most often, the treatment is weight loss, but in severe cases, surgery may be required.
Analysis of 35 million patient-years of data over 15 years from 2003 to 2017 was carried out using a national healthcare database in Wales. 85% of patients were women. Body Mass Index (BMI), calculated by dividing weight by height, was recorded for the study participants.
Researchers then compared every one-person with the disorder to three people without it, to match for gender, age, and socioeconomic status. Based on their socioeconomic status, people were divided into five groups ranging from fewest socioeconomic advantages to largest.
Results showed that the number of people with the disorder in 2017 was 76, six times the number (12) of people living with the disorder in 2013. For every 100,000 people in 2013, two were diagnosed with it, while in 2017, the number was 8. This increase in number corresponded to an increase in obesity rates - from 29% in 2013 to 40% in 2017.
"The worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016, so while our research looked specifically at people in Wales, our results may also have global relevance," says author William Owen Pickrell.
Strong links were found between BMI and the disorder. For women with high BMI, there were 180 cases for every 100,000 people compared to 13 with an ideal BMI. For men with high BMI, there were 21 cases compared to 8 cases for men with ideal BMI, for every 100,000 people.
. Only for women, socioeconomic factors were linked to risk. Women from the group with the least socioeconomic advantages were found to have a 1.5 times greater risk of developing the disorder compared to women in the highest advantage group.
"Of the five socioeconomic groups of our study participants, women in the lowest two groups made up more than half of the female participants in the study," adds Pickrell. "More research is needed to determine which socioeconomic factors such as diet, pollution, smoking, or stress may play a role in increasing a woman's risk of developing this disorder."