Eating Disorders Prevalent by Age and Associated with Mortality, Study Shows

Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Wednesday, October 9th, 2019
Researchers found that increasing treatment coverage for eating disorders (ED) could substantially reduce the mortality associated with common psychiatric disorders.

The objective of the study was to model the individual-level disease dynamics of ED from birth to age 40 years and to estimate how increased treatment coverage is associated with ED-related mortality.

100,000 individuals were modeled from birth to age 40 for 4 different eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other specified feeding and eating disorders. A Bayesian approach was used to synthesize available clinical and epidemiologic ED data. This model was calibrated to represent U.S. survey data from 2007 and 2011.

Results showed that the annual prevalence age for both males and females was 21 years of age, and 95% of first-time cases of eating disorders occurred 25 years old. Current treatment coverage prevents an estimated 41.7 deaths per 100,000 people by the age of 40. Meanwhile, an increasing treatment coverage for all patients with ED could prevent an estimated 70.5 deaths per 100,000 people by the age of 40.

The study concludes that a critical period for helping the prevention of ED is during adolescence and young adulthood. However, recurring ED later in life was estimated to be highly prevalent, which stresses the importance of identification and treatment of ED at older ages.

Ward ZJ, Rodriguez P, Wright DR, Austin SB, Long MW. Estimation of eating disorders prevalence by age and associations with mortality in a simulated nationally representative US cohort. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(10):e1912925. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.12925.

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