Objective: Anorexia nervosa has been consistently associated with increased mortality, but whether this is true for other types of eating disorders is unclear. The goal of this study was to determine whether anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and eating disorder not otherwise specified are associated with increased all-cause mortality or suicide mortality.
Method: Using computerized record linkage to the National Death Index, the authors conducted a longitudinal assessment of mortality over 8 to 25 years in 1,885 individuals with anorexia nervosa (N=177), bulimia nervosa (N=906), or eating disorder not otherwise specified (N=802) who presented for treatment at a specialized eating disorders clinic in an academic medical center.
Results: Crude mortality rates were 4.0% for anorexia nervosa, 3.9% for bulimia nervosa, and 5.2% for eating disorder not otherwise specified. All-cause standardized mortality ratios were significantly elevated for bulimia nervosa and eating disorder not otherwise specified; suicide standardized mortality ratios were elevated for bulimia nervosa and eating disorder not otherwise specified.
Conclusions: Individuals with eating disorder not otherwise specified, which is sometimes viewed as a "less severe" eating disorder, had elevated mortality risks, similar to those found in anorexia nervosa. This study also demonstrated an increased risk of suicide across eating disorder diagnoses.