- In the United States, eating disorders are more common than Alzheimer’s disease (as many as 10 million people have eating disorders compared to 4 million with Alzheimer’s disease).
- Despite its prevalence, there is inadequate research funding for eating disorders. Funding for eating disorders research is approximately 75% less than that for Alzheimer’s. In the year 2005, the National Institute of Health (NIH) funded the following disorders accordingly:
Illness Prevalence Research Funds
Eating disorders: 10 million $12,000,000*
Alzheimer’s disease: 4.5 million $647,000,000
Schizophrenia: 2.2 million $350,000,000
* The reported research funds are for anorexia nervosa only. No estimated funding is reported for bulimia nervosa or eating disorders not otherwise specified.
- Anorexia nervosa is more expensive to treat than schizophrenia, yet insurance coverage for treatment is exceedingly insufficient. The average direct medical costs for treating anorexia nervosa is $6054 a year compared to $4824 a year for schizophrenia.
- Research dollars spent on eating disorders averaged $1.20 per affected individual, compared to $159 per affected individual for schizophrenia.
- The average direct medical costs for treating eating disorder patients in the United States is currently between $5-6 billion per year, whereas the global cost of anti-psychotic medication is $7 billion per year.
- Anorexia nervosa has the highest premature mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. The majority of deaths are due to physiological complications.
- Although recovery from anorexia nervosa is often protracted nearly a decade, the outcome of treatment is better than for obesity or breast cancer.
Crow, S.J., Peterson, C.B. The Economic and Social Burden of Eating Disorders. Evidence and Experience in Psychiatry. World Psychiatric
Association (in press).
Lacey, J.V., Devesa, S.S., & Brinton, L.A. (2001). Recent Trends in Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality. Environ Mol Mutagen, (39),
McDowell, I. (2001). Alzheimer’s Disease: Insights from Epidemiology. Aging: Milano, (13), 143-162.
Powers, P.S., & Bannon, Y. (2002). The Burdens of Eating Disorders are Rarely Recognized. Evidence and Experience in Psychiatry. World
Psychiatric Association (in press).
Striegel-Moore, R.H., Leslie, D., Petrill, S.A., et al. (2000). One-year Use and Cost of Inpatient and Outpatient Services Among Female and
Male Patients with an Eating Disorder: Evidence from a National Database of Health Insurance Claims. International Journal of Eating
Disorders, (27), 381-389.
Strober, M., Freeman, R., Morrell, W. (1997). The Long-term Course of Severe Anorexia Nervosa in Adolescents: Survival Analysis of
Recovery, Relapse, and Outcome Predictors Over 10-15 years in a Prospective Study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, (22),
Tamminga, C.A., Lieberman, J.A. (1999). Schizophrenia Research Series: From Molecule to Public Policy. Biological Psychiatry, (46), 3.