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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.

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