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Incidence, prevalence and mortality of anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders

Hoek, Hans Wijbranda,b,c

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: July 2006 - Volume 19 - Issue 4 - p 389–394
doi: 10.1097/01.yco.0000228759.95237.78
Services research and outcomes

Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to evaluate the recent literature on the incidence and prevalence of and mortality associated with eating disorders.

Recent findings: General-practice studies show that the overall incidence rates of anorexia nervosa remained stable during the 1990s, compared with the 1980s. Some evidence suggests that the occurrence of bulimia nervosa is decreasing. Anorexia nervosa is a common disorder among young white females, but is extremely rare among black females. Recent studies confirm previous findings of the high mortality rate within the anorexia nervosa population.

Summary: The incidence of anorexia nervosa is around eight per 100 000 persons per year. An upward trend has been observed in the incidence of anorexia nervosa in the past century till the 1970s. The most substantial increase was among females aged 15–24 years, for whom a significant increase was observed from 1935 to 1999. The average prevalence rates for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa among young females are 0.3 and 1%, respectively. Only a minority of people with eating disorders, especially with bulimia nervosa, are treated in mental healthcare.

aParnassia Psychiatric Institute, The Hague, The Netherlands

bDepartment of Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York, USA

cDepartment of Psychiatry, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Correspondence to Professor Hans Wijbrand Hoek MD PhD, Parnassia Psychiatric Institute, Mangostraat 15, 2552 KS The Hague, The Netherlands Tel: +31 70 391 7344; fax: +31 70 391 7088; e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.