A meta-analysis of previous studies has indicated that individuals who have eating disorders have an elevated mortality rate, especially those with anorexia nervosa (AN).
According to background information in the article, the majority of studies of eating disorder–related death rates focus on AN. Some research of bulimia nervosa (BN) implies that death rates are low for this condition. Moreover, there is limited information about the likelihood of death with eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS), disordered eating that does not meet the criteria for AN or BN, said the authors,
“Despite EDNOS being a common presentation in eating disorders services, few published data exist regarding mortality rates in patients given this diagnosis.” In this study, the investigators sought to determine the death rates (and the factors thereof) for each of these types of eating disorders,” the authors said.
Jon Arcelus, from Leicester General Hospital in Leicester, England, and colleagues systematically searched, assessed and analyzed studies related to eating disorder death rates.
The authors acknowledged that some of the deaths included in the studies may be due to factors other than an eating disorder. However, they found that death rates for eating disorders—especially AN—are higher than for some other psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression. The elevated death rate for BN and EDNOS as well “highlights the seriousness of those conditions,” wrote the authors.
The study has been reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry.