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BACKGROUND: Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a complex and heritable psychiatric disorder, which imposes significant mortality and morbidity on sufferers globally. We aimed to report the prevalence, incidence and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) attributable to AN in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by age, sex and socio-demographic index (SDI), between 1990 and 2019. METHODS: The disease burden attributable to AN was obtained for the 21 countries located in the MENA region between 1990 and 2019 using publicly available data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2019 study. All estimates were provided as counts and age-standardized rates per 100,000 population, along with 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs). RESULTS: In 2019, the estimated age-standardised point prevalence and incidence rate of AN (per 100,000) in MENA were 49.3 (95% UI: 34.6-70.4) and 16.0 (11.3-22.0), which were 11.4% (7.3-15.4) and 5.9% (2.6-9.1) higher than in 1990, respectively. Furthermore, the regional age-standardised DALY rate was 10.6 (6.3-17.0) per 100,000 in 2019, which was 11.8% (5.2-19.1) higher than in 1990. In 2019, Kuwait [17.3 (10.3-27.9)] and Afghanistan [6.3 (3.7-10.3)] had the highest and lowest age-standardised DALY rates, respectively. In addition, Iran showed the largest increases in the age-standardised point prevalence [30.0% (24.1-36.2)], incidence [24.6% (18.6-30.4)] and DALY [30.5% (22.6-38.9)] rates between 1990 and 2019. In 2019, the number of prevalent cases and prevalence estimates peaked in the 15-19 age group for males and the 20-24 age group for females, with females having a higher number of cases and prevalence in all age groups. In 2019, the age-standardised DALY rates in MENA were higher than the global rates among males aged 10-34 years, but were lower than the global estimates among females in almost all age groups. In addition, the burden of AN was positively associated with the level of socio-economic development during the measurement period. CONCLUSIONS: The burden of AN in the MENA region increased between 1990 and 2019, which indicates that it is likely to become a more serious public health issue in the future. Up-to-date information about the epidemiological trends in the region would allow health policymakers to make informed and appropriate decisions to help address this issue. The findings of the present study showed that the point prevalence and incidence rate of anorexia nervosa have increased in the Middle East and North Africa region between 1990 and 2019. The highest burden in 2019 was found in Kuwait, while Afghanistan had the lowest attributable burden. In addition, between 1990 and 2019 Iran had the largest increase in the point prevalence of anorexia nervosa. Also in 2019, anorexia nervosa was more prevalent in females and peaked in the 15-19 age group for males and the 20-24 age group for females. Furthermore, as the level of socioeconomic development increased, so did the burden attributable to anorexia nervosa.

Original publication




Journal article


J eat disord

Publication Date





Anorexia nervosa, Epidemiology, Incidence, Middle East and North Africa, Prevalence