Gender differences in outcome of eating disorders: a retrospective cohort study

Psychiatry Res. 2011 Apr 30;186(2-3):362-6. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2010.08.005. Epub 2010 Sep 9.


Eating disorders (EDs) are uncommon in males. The majority of outcome studies on ED have not presented gender-specific results, mostly because of small study samples or exclusion of males. Furthermore, psychometric tools and outcome criteria used in ED have mainly been validated for females only. The objective of this study was to evaluate gender differences in weight restoration in different EDs. We studied the male representation and outcome in a large retrospective single centre cohort, the Funen Anorexia Nervosa Study (FANS). A total of 1015 patients were included in the study. A total of 356 (35%) patients were diagnosed with anorexia nervosa (AN), 298 (29%) with eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) and 361 (36%) with bulimia nervosa (BN). The male fractions in AN and EDNOS were similar, but significantly lower in BN. When remission was defined as body weight restoration to at least 85% of ideal body weight (IBW) and no self-reported binge or purgative behaviors in six months, the median time from onset to remission for patients with AN was significantly shorter for males: 7 years for females vs. 3 years for males. Among patients with a 5 years history of disease, remission rates in AN were 39% for females vs. 59% for males. The median time to remission for patients with EDNOS was similar to that of AN: 6 years for females vs. 3 years for males. In patients with EDNOS, 45% of the females remitted within 5 years vs. 77% of the males. With regard to body weight restoration and remission of purging behavior, this study suggests a better outcome for males than for females.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / classification
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Young Adult