Eating disorders are relatively rare among the general population. This review discusses the literature on the incidence, prevalence and mortality rates of eating disorders. We searched online Medline/Pubmed, Embase and PsycINFO databases for articles published in English using several keyterms relating to eating disorders and epidemiology. Anorexia nervosa is relatively common among young women. While the overall incidence rate remained stable over the past decades, there has been an increase in the high risk-group of 15-19 year old girls. It is unclear whether this reflects earlier detection of anorexia nervosa cases or an earlier age at onset. The occurrence of bulimia nervosa might have decreased since the early nineties of the last century. All eating disorders have an elevated mortality risk; anorexia nervosa the most striking. Compared with the other eating disorders, binge eating disorder is more common among males and older individuals.