How high are the costs of eating disorders - anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa - for German society?

Eur J Health Econ. 2002;3(4):244-50. doi: 10.1007/s10198-002-0137-2.


Anorexia and bulimia are relatively rare psychogenic illnesses, which nevertheless are of great concern for society since they affect a mostly very young population and are accompanied by a significantly raised mortality risk. This cost-of-illness analysis for eating disorders in Germany considers hospitalization, rehabilitation services, and indirect costs through inability to work and premature death. The cost estimates are based on projections derived from benefit data as listed by health insurance schemes and pension insurance schemes and from epidemiological studies on the prevalence of eating disorders and mortality rates. For anorexia the cost of illness amounts to approximately 195 million euros (73 direct costs and 122 mortality costs, for bulimia it comes to around 124 million euros (12 direct costs and 112 mortality costs). The annual cost per anorexia and bulimia patient is approximately 5,300 and 1,300 euros, respectively. This cost-of-illness analysis underlines the significance of indirect costs due to premature death, but also highlights the extremely cost-intensive treatment. The hospitalization cost of 12,800 euros per anorexia patient is markedly higher than the average hospitalization cost of 3,600 euros.