Study into eating disorders and associated risk of death
By Catherine Walker
Loughborough University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders, in conjunction with other agencies, has recently published its findings into their research into the association between eating disorders and mortality.
The researchers looked at 143 potentially relevant articles and found 36 studies with sufficient data for extraction. Using the information formulated from these studies it found that anorexia increases a patient’s risk of death fivefold. People with bulimia and other non-specified eating disorders also face an increased risk of death of about twice that of people without those disorders.
One in five deaths which occurred in anorexics was as a result of suicide. The other deaths were attributed to the brutal effects which anorexia has on the sufferer’s body over time. These findings were published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Jon Arcleus, of Loughborough University, the lead author of the research and his colleagues wrote that their findings highlighted the seriousness of eating disorders. Also noted was the fact that people who are diagnosed with anorexia later in life, those who are already severely underweight when diagnosed and those who also abuse alcohol seem to be at the greatest risk of dying.
Specialists working with eating disorders have noted that people with anorexia nervosa have both psychiatric and physical problems. Most facilities which treat anorexia focus only on the psychiatric problems whilst both aspects need to be treated in order to see improvement. It should also be noted that most people with anorexia also suffer from depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Author Affiliations: Loughborough University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders, Loughborough University (Dr Arcelus), Brandon Unit, Eating Disorders Service (Dr Arcelus and Ms Wales), and Department of Psycho-Oncology (Dr Mitchell), Leicester Partnership Trust, Leicester General Hospital, and Department of Cancer and Molecular Medicine, Leicester Royal Infirmary, University of Leicester (Dr Mitchell), Leicester, England; and Region Sjælland, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services, Næstved, Denmark (Dr Nielsen).
For more information on eating disorders please also see:
- Eating Disorders - Types of Eating Disorder
- Eating Disorders - Treatment
- Eating Disorders - Caring for Someone with Eating Disorders