Intermittent fasting diet trend linked to disordered eating

Intermittent fasting (IF), defined as fasting for more than eight hours at a time, is a trend that is growing in popularity. Yet new research shows it may be linked to eating disorder (ED) behaviors.

Researchers from the University of Toronto analyzed data from more than 2700 adolescents and young adults and found that for women, IF was significantly associated with overeating, binge eating, vomiting, laxative use, and compulsive exercise.

Study investigator Kyle Ganson, PhD, told Medscape Medical News that evidence on the effectiveness of IF for weight loss and disease prevention is mixed, and that it is important to understand the potential harms of IF — even if there are benefits for some: “If anything, this study shines light on the fact that engagement in IF may be connected with problematic ED behaviors, requiring healthcare professionals to be very aware of this contemporary and popular dietary trend, despite proponents on social media touting the effectiveness and benefits.”

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