Not addressing the implications of eating disorders has cost the U.S. economy billions

The death toll related to eating disorders peaked at 10,000 during the fiscal year studied.

2 min read

A new report released by the Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) highlights the very serious implications associated with eating disorders. In the U.S., eating disorders cost the economy more than $60 billion over a span of one year, the report finds.

As part of the report, researchers studied the fiscal year of 2018 to 2019 and found that the majority of the economic disparities were the result of lost productivity from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder.

In that fiscal year, it was uncovered that 54,000 visits the ER was made, costing close to $30 million, with more than 23,000 in-patient hospitalizations caused by eating disorders, researchers determined.

The death toll related to eating disorders peaked at 10,000 during that fiscal year.

The report was published as cases of eating disorders continue to increase, particularly among the U.S. population. As many as 9 percent of Americans are said to suffer from this condition at some point in their lives.

“This important study on the wide-reaching economic impacts of eating disorders hammers home the urgent need for policymakers to prioritize advancing prevention, early detection, and evidence-based treatment for those suffering from these pernicious diseases,” said Elissa Myers, CEO of the AED, in a news release.

S. Bryn Austin, director of STRIPED (Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders), concluded the following: “With our study, we now have the critical data we need to begin to estimate the cost-effectiveness, improved quality of life, and, most importantly, lives to be saved by scaling up effective prevention, early detection and treatment interventions for eating disorders.”

Among the issues facing many suffering from eating disorders include barriers to health care or receiving the necessary treatment and a lack of training for health care providers.

© Image courtesy of Gracia Lam