Prevalence, incidence, impairment, and course of the proposed DSM-5 eating disorder diagnoses in an 8-year prospective community study of young women

J Abnorm Psychol. 2013 May;122(2):445-57. doi: 10.1037/a0030679. Epub 2012 Nov 12.


We examined prevalence, incidence, impairment, duration, and course for the proposed DSM-5 eating disorders in a community sample of 496 adolescent females who completed annual diagnostic interviews over 8 years. Lifetime prevalence by age 20 was 0.8% for anorexia nervosa (AN), 2.6% for bulimia nervosa (BN), 3.0% for binge eating disorder (BED), 2.8% for atypical AN, 4.4% for subthreshold BN, 3.6% for subthreshold BED, 3.4% for purging disorder (PD), and combined prevalence of 13.1% (5.2% had AN, BN, or BED; 11.5% had feeding and eating disorders not elsewhere classified; FED-NEC). Peak onset age was 19-20 for AN, 16-20 for BN, and 18-20 for BED, PD, and FED-NEC. Youth with these eating disorders typically reported greater functional impairment, distress, suicidality, mental health treatment, and unhealthy body mass index, though effect sizes were relatively smaller for atypical AN, subthreshold BN, and PD. Average episode duration in months ranged from 2.9 for BN to 11.2 for atypical AN. One-year remission rates ranged from 71% for atypical AN to 100% for BN, subthreshold BN, and BED. Recurrence rates ranged from 6% for PD to 33% for BED and subthrehold BED. Diagnostic progression from subthreshold to threshold eating disorders was higher for BN and BED (32% and 28%) than for AN (0%), suggesting some sort of escalation mechanism for binge eating. Diagnostic crossover was greatest from BED to BN. Results imply that the new DSM-5 eating disorder criteria capture clinically significant psychopathology and usefully assign eating disordered individuals to homogeneous diagnostic categories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Image / psychology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Behavior
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult