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Eating Disorders on the Rise, Study Finds

June 29, 2020

In a one-year period stretching from 2018 to 2019, an estimated 10,200 people died as a direct result of eating disorders, and the number of eating disorder cases is projected to increase by 5% over the next decade, according to a recently published report.

The study was conducted by the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders (STRIPED) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Boston Children’s Hospital, the Academy for Eating Disorders, and Deloitte Access Economics.

Other findings in the report:

  • During the period measured, from Oct. 1, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2019, there were an estimated 53,918 emergency room visits and 23,560 inpatient hospitalizations related to eating disorders.
  • About 28.8 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime, and females are twice as likely to have an eating disorder as their male counterparts.
  • Individuals with eating disorders have a 23 times higher rate of suicide as the general population.

The full report, which includes additional data on the economic impact of eating disorders, is available on the website of the Harvard T.C. Chan School of Public Health.

“With our study, we now have the critical data we need to begin to estimate the cost-effectiveness, improved quality of life, and, most importantly, lives to be saved by scaling up effective prevention, early detection, and treatment interventions for eating disorders,” S. Bryn Austin, ScD, director of STRIPED and Professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Boston Children’s Hospital, said in a news release announcing the study’s findings.

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