Eating Disorder Statistics

Eating Disorders are an area of mental health that are slowly coming more into the public awareness and research space. Some of the statistics Cielo House has collected about Eating Disorders to date show just how serious these conditions are, and show us that we need to continue treating and learning from those who struggle with eating disorders.

General Statistics

  • An estimated 30 million people Americans of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder. (1)
  • Every hour someone dies as a direct result from an eating disorder. (3)
  • Eating disorders carry the highest mortality rate of ANY mental illness. (4)
  • The death rate of anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL cause of death for females 15-24 years old. (9)
  • For individuals diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in their twenties, there is an 18 times greater risk of death than other individuals in their twenties. (9)
  • 1 in 5 deaths from eating disorders are the result of suicide. (9)
  • Eating Disorders are the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents, following obesity and asthma. (2)
  • It is estimated that 10 to 25% of people struggling with anorexia and bulimia are males (13) and many professionals believe this figure is underreported. (5)
  • 16% of transgender college students reported having an eating disorder.(6)
  • Eating disorders affect all races and ethnic groups. (7)
  • Eating disorders are problems that are largely stigmatized, misunderstood and undertreated (5)
  • Eating disorders are complicated condition, with genetics, environmental factors, and personality traits all being risk factor for the development of an eating disorder.(8)

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Nearly 1 percent of American women suffer from anorexia in their lifetime. (13).
  • 1 in 5 anorexia deaths are by suicide. (13)
  • 33-50% of patients with anorexia also struggle with a co-occurring mood disorder, such as depression. (10)
  • Approximately 50% of patients with anorexia also struggle with a co-occurring anxiety disorder, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder. (10)

Bulimia Nervosa

  • 5% of American women will suffer from bulimia nervosa at some point in their lifetime. (13)
  • Nearly 1 in 10 patients with bulimia also struggle with a co-occurring substance abuse disorder, such as alcohol abuse disorder. (10)

Binge Eating Disorder

  • 8% of American adults will suffer from binge eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. (13)
  • Approximately 50% of the risk for binge eating disorder is genetically based. (10)
  • Nearly 50% of patients with binge eating disorder also struggle with a co-occurring mood disorder. (10)
  • More than 50% of patients with binge eating disorder also struggle with a co-occurring anxiety disorder. (10)
  • Nearly 1 in 10 patients with binge eating disorder also struggle with a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. (10)
  • Even after having a bariatric procedure, binge eating still occurs in as many as 25% of cases. (11)

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)

  • OSFED was previously called Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) in the DSM-IV.
  • OSFED diagnoses include atypical anorexia nervosa (which is anorexia without the low body weight criteria, bulimia or binge eating disorder with a lower frequency of behaviors but still clinically significant, purging disorder, and night eating syndrome.
  • Nearly 50% of patients with EDNOS also struggle with a co-occurring mood disorder. (10)
  • Nearly 1 in 10 patients with EDNOS also struggle with a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. (10)

Research Statistics About Eating Disorder Treatment

  • Individuals who seek treatment at a younger age OR at an earlier stage of the illness have better treatment outcomes. (12)
  • Individuals who have higher motivation to recover have better treatment outcome. (12)
  • Symptom reduction early in treatment is associated with improved long-term treatment outcomes. (12)


  1. Wade, T. D., Keski-Rahkonen, A. and Hudson, J. I. (2011) Epidemiology of Eating Disorders, in Textbook of Psychiatric Epidemiology, Third Edition (eds M. T. Tsuang, M. Tohen and P. B. Jones), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK.
  2. Gonzalez, A., Kohn, M.R., Clarke, S.D. Eating disorders in adolescents. Aust Fam Physician. 2007;36:614-619.
  3. Eating Disorders Coalition. (2016). Facts About Eating Disorders: What The Research
  4. Smink, F. E., van Hoeken, D., & Hoek, H. W. (2012). Epidemiology of eating disorders: Incidence, prevalence and mortality rates. Current Psychiatry Reports,14(4), 406-414.
  5. Strother, Eric., Lember, Raymond., Stanford, Stevie C., Turberville, Dayton. (2012) Eating Disorders in Men: Underdiagnosed, Undertreated, and Misunderstood. Eating Disorders, P. 346-355 Eating disorder symptoms and weight and shape concerns in a large web‐based convenience sample of women ages 50 and above: Results of the gender and body image (GABI) study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45(7), 832-844.
  6. Diemer, E. W., Grant, J. D., Munn-Chernoff, M. A., Patterson, D., & Duncan, A. E. (2015). Gender identity, sexual orientation, and eating-related pathology in a national sample of college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57(2), 144-149.
  7. Marques, L., Alegria, M., Becker, A. E., Chen, C.-n., Fang, A., Chosak, A., &Diniz, J. B. (2011). Comparative prevalence, correlates of impairment, and service utilization for eating disorders across US ethnic groups: implications for reducing ethnic disparities in health care access for eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 44(5), 412-4120.
  8. Culbert, K. M., Racine, S. E., &Klump, K. L. (2015). Research Review: What we have learned about the causes of eating disorders – a synthesis of sociocultural, psychological, and biological research. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56(11), 1141-1164.
  9. Arcelus, J., Mitchell, A. J., Wales, J., & Nielsen, S. (2011). Mortality rates in patients with anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders: a meta-analysis of 36 studies. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(7), 724-731.
  10. Ulfvebrand, S., Birgegard, A., Norring, C., Hogdahl, L., & von Hausswolff-Juhlin, Y. (2015). Psychiatric comorbidity in women and men with eating disorders results from a large clinical database. Psychiatry Research, 230(2), 294-299.
  11. Berkman ND, Brownley KA, Peat CM, Lohr KN, Cullen KE, Morgan LC, Bann CM, Wallace IF, Bulik CM. (2015) Management and Outcomes of Binge-Eating Disorder. Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 160.
  12. Vall, Eva B, Wade, Tracy. (2016) Predictors of treatment outcome in individuals with eating disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis Volume 49, Issue 4, 432–433, Article first published online: 16 April 2016