Study shows that chewing and spitting food is a widespread eating disorder among adolescents

A new study addresses an eating disorder, also known as “chew and spit” (CHSP or CS), where the subject chews food and then spits it out. This behavior can be noticed especially in adolescents and is generally not recognized as a separate disorder from other eating disorders, nor can this research be considered as an “officialization” of the disorder itself.

Researchers at the University of Sydney have mostly carried out a large-scale study that could be useful for people with eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa. According to the results of this study, published in Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention, this disorder would occur in as many as 12% of adolescents, a percentage that exceeds other results obtained from previous studies that did not go beyond 0.4%, slightly below the range of percentages related to disorders such as bulimia and anorexia that are found in about 1-2% of the population.

These results surprised the researchers themselves, as stated in the press release by Phillip Aouad, the main author of the research that is completing his doctorate at the School of Psychology of the aforementioned Australian university. According to the researcher, this high percentage “is cause for concern and deserves further investigation” and the same fact that the disorder seems to be more prevalent in adolescents, and even more specifically in girls, indicates that it is a clinical problem.

Moreover, the very fact that this disorder is not recognized as a separate symptom, even by the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), considered as a “bible” for the classification of psychiatric and psychological disorders, can lead to a lack of checks and diagnosis by doctors themselves.

The eating disorder related to chewing and spitting food has in fact been removed from the list of recognized conditions as it is considered too low prevalence, however these new findings suggest that this is not the case. It is an eating disorder that cannot be ignored, as Aouad himself states, as it is quite prevalent in adolescents.