Mortality in eating disorders: A descriptive study




We report rates and causes of death for a cohort of 246 eating-disordered women and provide descriptive information on their eating disorder and comorbid diagnoses.


Data on mortality were collected as part of a longitudinal study of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, now in its 11th year. Other data sources included death certificates, autopsy reports, relative interviews, and a National Death Index search.


Seven deaths have occurred during the study, all among anorexic subjects with a history of binging and purging and with comorbid Axis I disorders. The crude mortality rate was 5.1%. The standardized mortality ratios for death (9.6) and suicide (58.1) were significantly elevated (p < .001).


Anorexia nervosa is associated with a substantial risk of death and suicide. Features correlated with fatal outcome are longer duration of illness, binging and purging, comorbid substance abuse, and comorbid affective disorders. © 2000 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 28: 20–26, 2000.