Thousands of Italians die each year due to eating disorders, according to a study by the country's health minister.
"Eating disorders are the first cause of psychiatric death in Italy, killing between 7,000 and 8,000 people every year," Laura Dalla Ragione, a psychiatrist representative for the health minister, told Xinhua on Monday.
She said some 3 million Italians currently suffer from anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder (BED), and those hit are citizens of all social ranks and ages, even including many children aged between eight and 10.
In addition, according to the study, about half million Italians suffer from so-called "drunkorexia," a growing trend of consuming alcohol without eating.
"In the last 10 years, the number of Italians suffering from eating disorders has increased by as much as 300 percent," Dalla Ragione said.
A growing number of them are male, presently 10 percent of the total number and 20 percent of those aged between 13 and 17, compared to 1 percent 10 years ago.
The "worrying phenomenon" was especially triggered by cultural reasons, the expert said, as "today's society offers ultra-thin beauty models and at the same time large amounts of junk food full of fat and unhealthy preservatives."
In fact, many people suffering from eating disorders used to be obese at an early age, and modern lifestyle and eating habits do not help, Dalla Ragione noted.
The current health campaigns are welcome but still not sufficient to counter the growing epidemic in the country, she said.