Outcomes of eating disorders: a systematic review of the literature

Int J Eat Disord. 2007 May;40(4):293-309. doi: 10.1002/eat.20369.


Objective: The RTI International-University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Evidence-based Practice Center systematically reviewed evidence on factors associated with outcomes among individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge eating disorder (BED) and whether outcomes differed by sociodemographic characteristics.

Method: We searched electronic databases including MEDLINE and reviewed studies published from 1980 to September, 2005, in all languages against a priori inclusion/exclusion criteria and focused on eating, psychiatric or psychological, or biomarker outcomes.

Results: At followup, individuals with AN were more likely than comparisons to be depressed, have Asperger's syndrome and autism spectrum disorders, and suffer from anxiety disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorders. Mortality risk was significantly higher than what would be expected in the population and the risk of suicide was particularly pronounced. The only consistent factor across studies relating to worse BN outcomes was depression. A substantial proportion of individuals continue to suffer from eating disorders over time but BN was not associated with increased mortality risk. Data were insufficient to draw conclusions concerning factors associated with BED outcomes. Across disorders, little to no data were available to compare results based on sociodemographic characteristics.

Conclusion: The strength of the bodies of literature was moderate for factors associated with AN and BN outcomes and weak for BED.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome