Twenty million women and ten million men in the United States are affected by eating disorders, and only a small portion of these individuals receives treatment.
One of the main problems with statistics on eating disorders is that many individuals struggling with an eating disorder do not come forward for diagnosis due to shame, denial or confusion as to what their symptoms are. According to statistics, one in ten individuals will seek professional treatment for their eating disorder, and those individuals who seek treatment are most successful when they enter treatment early on in their diagnosis. A 2004 study found that 35 percent of women diagnosed with anorexia nervosa relapsed within two years of discharge from an inpatient eating disorder treatment facility and a 2013 study by researchers at the University of Toronto reported that the relapse rates of anorexia nervosa range from 9 to 65 percent. The statistics on relapse rates vastly differ across the board depending on the specific eating disorder diagnosis, the seriousness of the disorder, when the individuals entered treatment, the level of treatment and the treatment length of stay. According to statistics, 60% of individuals who come professional eating disorder treatment will make a full recovery. Eating disorders statistically have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness; however, research shows that most deaths occur from anorexia nervosa.

The dangers of eating disorders

  • 5-10 percent of individuals with anorexia die within 10 years after being diagnosed, and 18-20 percent of individuals with anorexia will die within 20 years of being diagnosed.
  • The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of all causes of death in females 15-24 years of age.
  • Without treatment, up to 20 percent of individuals with a severe eating disorder will die, and with treatment, the mortality rate drastically falls to 2-3 percent.
  • Among those who struggle with anorexia, 1 in 5 deaths are by suicide.
  • According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, up to 50% of individuals with eating disorders abused alcohol or illicit drugs, a rate five times higher than the general population.

These statistics are grim and reveal that professional eating disorder treatment is necessary, regardless of the individual’s severity. Death usually arises from complications associated with eating disorders, primarily cardiac irregularities, and suicide.

Treatment Statistics on Eating Disorders

  • Inpatient treatment of an eating disorder in the United States ranges from $500 – $2,000 per day. Long-term outpatient treatment, including therapy and medical monitoring, can cost $100,000 or more. Many insurance companies will cover a large portion of these costs, and it is possible for individuals to apply for grants and scholarships from their treatment centers and through eating disorder organizations.
  • Treatment is most successful when intervention is early.
  • Eating disorders statistics tell us that in order for treatment to be successful, it must be multifaceted. It must include medical care, mental health care, and nutritional education and counseling.
  • Long-term treatment is often needed, as eating disorders require ongoing care.
  • Eating disorder research is very under-funded. The National Institute of Health allocates only 93 cents towards research funding for every person diagnosed with an eating disorder. In comparison, they give $88 for every person diagnosed with autism.