Research Reaffirms Anorexia’s High Mortality Risk
Eating disorders are known as the most deadly mental illness, and new research reaffirms that notion. A report published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders shows that eating disorders, particularly anorexia, often lead to deadly outcomes.
The study, from researchers at the University of Munich in Germany, found that people with anorexia were five times more likely to die early than those in the general population. While all eating disorders were linked to increased risk of mortality, anorexia specifically was the most deadly.
The researchers suggest the physical effects of anorexia including low body weight and compromised immune system contribute to the high death risk. However, the leading cause of non-natural death was suicide.
The team highlighted several specific risk factors for premature death among those with eating disorders including a high number of hospitalizations for the disorder, being discharged from a hospital program too soon, developing an eating disorder at an older age, poor social adjustment, and lower body mass index (BMI) at the time of hospitalization.
The report shows “there is still a desperate need to develop more effective treatments for eating disorders, especially anorexia nervosa,” said lead author Dr. Manfred Fichter in a news release for the study.