The Social and Economic Cost of Eating Disorders in the United States

The impact of eating disorders in the United States was nearly $400 billion in 2018-19 when considering both economic costs and reduced wellbeing, according to a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Investigators estimated that the total economic cost associated with eating disorders in 2018-19 was $64.7billion, equivalent to $11,808 per affected person, and the substantial reduction in wellbeing associated with eating disorders was valued at $326.5 billion.

Economic costs (2019 US dollars) of eating disorders by age group and gender.

“Our study lays bare the devastating economic impact that eating disorders have in the United States, a country where the majority of people affected suffer alone and never receive appropriate treatment because of barriers to healthcare and lack of training for healthcare providers,” said co-author S. Bryn Austin, ScD, director of STRIPED (Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders) and a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Boston Children’s Hospital. “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.”

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