Eating Disorders can be Deadly

Anorexic patients have higher death rates

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Eating disorders are a serious problem, but there has never been statistics to prove how serious -- until now. Researchers found that eating disorders are linked to higher mortality rates.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are eating disorders that plague about 8 million Americans, and should not be ignored or taken lightly because the end result could be a matter of life or death.

"An eating disorder can kill you."

Jon Arcelus, Ph.D., and team found a link between eating disorders and higher death rates, especially in those who suffer from anorexia nervosa. The researchers also found that suicide is a leading cause of death in this patient population, occuring in one out of every five anorexic pateints.

Researchers found age was a strong predictor of mortality for anorexia. A patient in his or her late teens and 20s has a higher rate of mortality than someone in her 30s or early teens.

The mortality rate for bulimic patients is similar to patients with an unspecified eating disorder. Researchers analyzed 36 studies and acknowledged that it’s impossible to conclude all patient deaths were the direct result of an eating disorder, says Dr. Arcelus.

More studies need to be done because these findings show how serious eating disorders are and the deadly consequences that can result from them, Dr. Arcelus warns.

This research is published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 8, 2011
Last Updated:
July 12, 2011