Eating Disorders

  • Rita DeBate
  • Heather Blunt
  • Marion Ann Becker


Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that are more common among women and present with well-documented physical manifestations and psychiatric comorbidities. An estimated 5–10 million females are affected with some form of eating disorder (Gordon 1990; Crowther et al. 1992; Fairburn et al. 1995; Hoek 2002). The American College of Physicians lists eating disorders as one of the nine most serious problems affecting adolescents and young adults, and anorexia nervosa (AN) as the third most common chronic illness (Snyder 1989). Individuals with eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among any groups afflicted with mental illness as 20% of people suffering from eating disorders die prematurely from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems. More specifically, AN has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness (Sullivan 1995). The mortality rate for individuals with AN is 12 times higher than the all-cause death rate for females 15–24 years old (National Eating Disorders Association 2002; Cavanaugh and Lemberg 1999), and 200 times higher than the mortality rate for suicides among women (Cavanaugh and Lemberg 1999). Despite the seriousness of these disorders, many insurance companies continue to deny coverage for treatment (National Eating Disorders Association 2006) even though the outcome of treatment has been found to be better than for obesity or breast cancer (National Eating Disorders Association 2005a). This chapter will provide an overview of eating disorders including classification, epidemiology, comorbidities, health consequences, and treatment. In addition, mental health policy implications will be presented.


Anorexia Nervosa Eating Disorder Binge Eating Bulimia Nervosa Binge Eating Disorder 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rita DeBate
    • 1
  • Heather Blunt
  • Marion Ann Becker
  1. 1.Department of Community & Family Health, College of Public HealthUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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