In case you didn't already know, eating disorders can be deadly. A new, extremely large-scale study on the topic was presented this week at the American Psychiatric Association's annual conference by Jaana T. Suokas, MD.
The study was conducted at the University of Helsinki Central Hospital in Finland and followed 2329 women and 113 men in treatment for eating disorders between 1995 and 2010. It looked at all causes of premature death for the sufferers, including suicide. People suffering from anorexia were 6 times more likely to die prematurely. Those suffering from bulimia had a 3 times greater risk of premature death, and those suffering from binge eating disorder had a 1.78 greater risk.
Interestingly, the risk of premature death for people suffering from anorexia went down the further out the sufferers got from treatment. However, those with bulimia had the highest risk of premature death about two years after treatment.
Although I don't know that this study tells us a great deal that we didn't already know about eating disorders, it does underscore the importance of early treatment and recovery. It is a sad, but important, reminder of the seriousness of this disease.
Do you know someone who has died as a result of their eating disorder?