Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Eating disorders are amongst the most, disabling and lethal of psychiatric conditions. These conditions affect predominantly adolescent and young adult females, but not exclusively so. Whilst stereotypically diagnosed in western, urban societies their emergence in a range of population groups beyond the aforementioned has challenged the stereotype – no more so than in South Africa where eating disorders had not been diagnosed in black, female South Africans until the 1990s. Creating awareness of the changing demographic profile and thus risk was critical in ensuring appropriate diagnosis and management. Whilst this was a key feature of my personal journey there were numerous other aspects of risk explored for the development of eating disorders, as well as management, which will be highlighted and discussed in the paper. This has been especially relevant within the South African context.