first world disease

The creator of the documentary "Thin" calls anorexia a "first world disease." She is quoted as saying "believe it or not, there are no reported cases of anorexia in developing nations."

A common, but incorrect assumption. But then again, Greenfield refers to relapse as "recidivism."


  1. Another thought, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear or see it, it still fell right? It is challenging enough in our culture/society to effectively detect and diagnose eating disorders therefore I can only imagine how under reported they are in other cultures.

  2. Anorexia is definitely not a "white" disease but it is definitely a disease of the privileged. Most of people in those studies were from middle or upper class backgrounds. They are people who have the luxury of refusing food.

  3. Thank you for posting about this and bringing attention to it. In a paper I recently wrote on Buddhism and eating disorders (as someone who has been both Buddhist and eating disordered), I especially wanted to highlight the fact that eating disorders are increasingly becoming a problem in developing nations, especially with the rise of consumerism in globalization. But they can also take on different cultural trappings. This is such a rarely addressed issue and I'm glad to see a post about it here.

  4. "Most of people in those studies were from middle or upper class backgrounds. They are people who have the luxury of refusing food."

    Another perspective..... These are the people that were diagnosed and had the luxury of treatment. I believe that there are many others afflicted with eating disorders but not detected or diagnosed for many reasons one being lack of treatment, resources, etc. etc.

  5. Polly, who was featured in the film, recently committed suicide. It's a reminder just how important it is to understand and successful treat eating disorders.

  6. I think samsi77 is more on the right track on this one. In the third world, the resources to track, diagnose and treat eds are bound to be sorely lacking. The moreso as many such places have worse chronic public health issues to deal with like endemic deadly infectious diseses.
    Also, to put a kinder spin on what J-A-MC-NW-G-ED said, in a population that is experiencing food stress overall, it's going to be really hard to seperate out those who are unable to eat from thier disease from those who are unable to eat from lack of food.


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