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While individual cases of eating disorder (ED) patients with disabilities have been reported, there has been little synthesis of their experiences of body image and thin idealization. This study reviews 19 published clinical reports of ED patients with sensory, mobility-related, or intellectual disabilities and evaluates the extent to which their experiences align with or challenge current conceptions of body image in ED. ED patients with visual impairment reported a profound disturbance of body image, perceived intersubjectively and through tactile sensations. Reducing dependence in mobility was an important motivation to control body size for ED patients with mobility-related disabilities. ED as a way of coping with and compensating for the psychosocial consequences of disability was a recurrent theme for patients across a range of disabilities. These experiential accounts of ED patients with disabilities broaden current understandings of body image to include touch and kinaesthetic awareness, intersubjective dynamics, and perceptions of normalcy.

Original publication




Journal article


Body Image

Publication Date





266 - 274


Body image, Disability, Eating disorder, Intellectual disability, Thin ideal, Visual impairment, Adaptation, Psychological, Adolescent, Adult, Attitude to Health, Body Image, Child, Disabled Persons, Feeding and Eating Disorders, Female, Humans, Intellectual Disability, Male, Middle Aged, Mobility Limitation, Sensation Disorders, Surveys and Questionnaires, Young Adult