Prevalence of eating disorders over the 2000-2018 period: a systematic literature review

Am J Clin Nutr. 2019 May 1;109(5):1402-1413. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy342.


Background: Eating disorders (EDs) lead to multiple psychiatric and somatic complications and thus constitute a major public health concern.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to give an exhaustive view of the studies reporting the prevalence of the different EDs or total EDs and to study their evolution.

Methods: A literature search following PRISMA Guidelines and limited to studies in English or French published between 2000 and 2018 was performed and relevant studies were included in this systematic review on the prevalence of EDs. The literature search revealed 94 studies with accurate ED diagnosis and 27 with broad ED diagnosis.

Results: In 94 studies with accurate ED diagnosis, the weighted means (ranges) of lifetime ED were 8.4% (3.3-18.6%) for women and 2.2% (0.8-6.5%) for men. The weighted means (ranges) of 12-month ED prevalence were 2.2% (0.8-13.1%) for women and 0.7% (0.3-0.9%) for men. The weighted means (ranges) of point prevalence were 5.7% (0.9-13.5%) for women and 2.2% (0.2-7.3%) for men. According to continents, the weighted means (ranges) of point prevalence were 4.6% (2.0-13.5%) in America, 2.2% (0.2-13.1%) in Europe, and 3.5% (0.6-7.8%) in Asia.In addition to the former, 27 other studies reported the prevalence of EDs as broad categories resulting in weighted means (ranges) of total point prevalence of any EDs of 19.4% (6.5-36.0%) for women and 13.8% (3.6-27.1%) for men.

Conclusions: Despite the complexity of integrating all ED prevalence data, the most recent studies confirm that EDs are highly prevalent worldwide, especially in women. Moreover, the weighted means of point ED prevalence increased over the study period from 3.5% for the 2000-2006 period to 7.8% for the 2013-2018 period. This highlights a real challenge for public health and healthcare providers.

Keywords: anorexia nervosa; binge eating disorder; bulimia nervosa; eating disorders; feeding disorders; prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Americas / epidemiology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / epidemiology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence