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Int J Eat Disord. 2000 Jul;28(1):20-6.

Mortality in eating disorders: a descriptive study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114,



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.

Copyright 2000 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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