Skip to Content

A Body To Die For: The Deadly Side Of Eating Disorders


Some people may think that eating disorders aren't that serious but this couldn't be further from the truth. Eating disorders can be deadly. The pursuit of a perfect body comes with a serious price.

According to a study from the Archives of General Psychology, anorexia nervosa is the most lethal mental disorder of all, increasing risk of death six-fold as compared to healthy individuals. In fact, anorexia is even more deadly than major depressive disorder, with a risk of death being four times higher as compared to depression.

Anorexia Is More Deadly Than Other Mental Disorders, Even Depression

The study, conducted by Jon Arcelus, MD, PhD from the University of Leicester, England investigated 17,272 patients, 755 of whom died. The researchers found that Anorexia carried 2 times the risk of death as compared to people with schizophrenia, and 3 times the risk as compared to people with bipolar disorder. In addition, using the data, the researchers found that 5.1 people per 1000 with anorexia died each year from the disease, 1.7 people per 1000 with bulimia died each year, and 3.3 people per 1000 with eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) also died.

Within 10 Years Of A Diagnosis, 5-10% Of Those With An Eating Disorder Will Die

Somewhere between 8 and 10 million Americans have an eating disorder and 5 to 10% of those diagnosed will die within 10 years, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Furthermore, 18-20% will be dead within 20 years of an eating disorder diagnosis. In fact, death due to an eating disorder has a 12 times higher rate than the rate for all causes of death in women aged 15 to 24.

Eating Disorders And Their Complications Are Deadly

People with eating disorders can die for a variety of reasons. Some commit suicide, and some estimates suggest 1 in 5 people with anorexia will kill themselves. Others die from complications of chronic malnutrition. Organ failure, electrolyte imbalances, and sudden cardiac arrest can all occur.

The desire to achieve a perfect physique can be deadly. If you or someone you know is dealing with an eating disorder, get help before becoming a statistic.