TUESDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- People with eating
disorders, especially those with anorexia nervosa, have an
increased risk of death, a new study indicates.
English researchers analyzed 36 English-language studies --
published between January 2006 and September 2010 -- that looked at
anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and eating disorders not
Anorexics mistakenly believe they are fat and deny themselves
food. Bulimics overeat and purge, usually by vomiting or using
There were a total of 17,272 patients in the studies, which
reported 755 deaths. The meta-analysis revealed that for each 1,000
person-years, 5.1 deaths occurred among anorexia patients (1.3 of
which were suicide), 1.7 deaths among bulimia patients, and 3.3
deaths among patients with other eating disorders. (A meta-analysis
pools and analyzes statistical data from different studies
investigating similar questions.)
The standardized mortality ratio (the number of actual deaths
compared with the number of expected deaths) was 5.86 for anorexia,
1.93 for bulimia, and 1.92 for other eating disorders.
Among anorexia patients, those in their late teens and 20s had a
higher death rate than younger patients or those in their 30s, said
Jon Arcelus of Leicester General Hospital and colleagues.
The study is published in the July issue of the journal
Archives of General Psychiatry.
While noting that some of the deaths might be attributable to
other causes, the authors said that death rates for eating
disorders, especially anorexia, are higher than for schizophrenia
More research is needed to identify the factors that raise risk
of death in people with eating disorders, the authors said.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about