Princess Diana made eating disorders royal but the health fraternity is deeply concerned.
According to a new 12-year study of severely ill anorexia patients, full recovery from anorexia nervosa is slow, and women with the disease have close to a nine-fold increased risk of death.
As reported in International Journal of Eating Disorders. By Dr. Manfred M. Fichter of the Klinik Roseneck Hospital for Behavioral Medicine in Prien, Germany and colleagues, "The long-term course of anorexia nervosa is not very favorable," "Much remains to be done to improve existing treatments and to make them more accessible to those reluctant to seek help."
103 women who had been hospitalized for anorexia nervosa at an average age of about 25 were taken as the sample for the study. As stated by the researchers, patients who are treated during adolescence fare much better than those who undergo treatment as adults, like the women in the current study.
The results showed that at 12 years after hospitalization, almost 30 percent of the study participants still had anorexia nervosa. Overall outcome was good for 27.5 percent of patients, intermediate for 25.3 percent, and poor for 39.6 percent. Seven patients had died, all from causes related to the disease.
The researchers found that women who fared poorly were more likely to also have sexual problems and impulsively. They also had suffered from their eating disorder longer before receiving treatment for the first time.
Overall mortality was 8.8 percent, the researchers found, nearly nine times higher than would be expected in a group of healthy women of the same age over the same time period.
This study brings to light the gravity of the situation of eating disorders round the globe and attracts attention.
SOURCE: International Journal of Eating Disorders, March 2006.