Facts and statistics about eating disorders

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Find information about mortality, victims, their characteristics, and more

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Tens of millions of women and men suffer from eating disorders in the U.S. Below are statistics about the three major types of eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.


  • Some 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder (ED).
  • The median age of onset of an eating disorder is age 12.
  • About 95% of ED victims are between the ages of 12 and 25.
  • Between 10% and 15% of people who have an ED are male. The number is higher for gay men. More than 20% of gay men are anorexic and 14% are bulimic.
  • Some 11% of high-school students have an eating disorder.
  • Between .5% and 3.7% of women will experience anorexia at some point in their lifetime.
  • Between 1.1% and 4.2% of women will experience bulimia at some point in their lifetime.
  • Mortality

  • Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. An anorexic female age 15-24 is 12% more likely to die from the disease than from any other cause of death.
  • Between 5% and 10% of anorexics die within 10 years of onset, and between 18% and 20% die within 20 years. Half of all anorexics say they never fully recover from the disease.
  • The mortality rate for anorexia is 4.0%, 3.9% for bulimia, and 5.2% for eating disorder not otherwise specified.
  • About 20% of anorexia sufferers will die prematurely from complications related to the disorder.
  • More than half (53%) of those suffering from bulimia consider suicide, and more than one-third (35.1%) actually try to kill themselves.
  • General Statistics

  • About half of anorexics develop bulimia or bulimic tendencies.
  • Anorexia is the third most common chronic disease for adolescents.
  • Only 10% of people with eating disorders seek treatment. About 35% of those who seek treatment do so in a program specifically for eating disorders.
  • About 80% of ED sufferers who seek treatment recover fully. The other 20% continue to struggle or die from the disease.
  • In 2011, the National Institutes of Health spent $28 million on research into eating disorders. The NIH spent $450 million on Alzheimer’s disease and $276 million on schizophrenia. There 30 million people in the U.S. with an ED, 5.1 million with Alzheimer's and 3.4 million with schizophrenia.
  • About 25% of college-aged women binge and purge to control their weight.
Sources: The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders: www.anad.org; JAMA Psychiatry: http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/journal.aspx; National Institutes of Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov.
-Beth Rowen
Main Eating Disorder page.
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