Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center is in the business of saving lives, because we've known for years what a recent study reported in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry supports: individuals who have eating disorders have an elevated mortality rate, especially those with anorexia nervosa. This is an important study, but it may not go far enough.
I think it’s always important to have studies which validate and quantify what we have seen and known for decades clinically. But this type of research needs to be expanded to include bulimia and especially EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified), which is by far the most common and least likely to be treated of the eating disorders. My guess is that it is just as deadly as anorexia, just over a much longer period of time.
In the United States, as many as 10 million females and one million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, and millions more are struggling with binge eating disorder, according to the National Eating Disorder Association, which makes this study all the more relevant and critical.
The deadliness of eating disorders can never be overemphasized, since so many people, professionals and lay people alike, are in denial about the morbidity and mortality associated with eating disorders. We have long been advocates at the government level, fighting for the passage of bills to support eating disorder parity, and hope studies like this help in this arena, holding insurance companies accountable for paying for the amount and length of services needed to save lives from these deadly diseases. Recovery is possible, and help is available, when these diseases are taken seriously and recognized as fatal.