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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.

“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.”

The U.K.’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week takes place on March 1–7, 2021.

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About Journal

With a mission to advance the scientific knowledge needed for understanding, treating, and preventing eating disorders, the International Journal of Eating Disorders (IJED) publishes rigorously evaluated, high-quality contributions to an international readership of health professionals, clinicians and scientists. The journal also draws the interest of patient groups and advocates focused on eating disorders, and many of the articles draw attention from mainstream media outlets.

Articles featured in the journal describe state-of-the-art scientific research on theory, methodology, etiology, clinical practice, and policy related to eating disorders, as well as contributions that facilitate scholarly critique and discussion of science and practice in the field. Theoretical and empirical work on obesity or healthy eating falls within the journal’s scope inasmuch as it facilitates the advancement of efforts to describe and understand, prevent, or treat eating disorders. IJED welcomes submissions from all regions of the world and representing all levels of inquiry (including basic science, clinical trials, implementation research, and dissemination studies), and across a full range of scientific methods, disciplines, and approaches.

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