Reuters reported on February 23, 2006 on a study in the March 2006 issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders which found that women with severe anorexia nervosa die at a rate of 9 times more than healthy women. The study also found that the earlier treatment is begun, such as in adolescence, the better the outcome, as compared to women who didn't begin treatment until they were adults.
Fichter and his team followed 103 women who had been hospitalized for anorexia nervosa at an average age of about 25. The researchers point out that anorexia nervosa patients who are treated during adolescence fare much better than those who undergo treatment as adults, like the women in the current study. Patients in this study had unusually severe disease and some resistance to treatment, and most had attempted treatment previously.
Overall, the study participants fared worse in the 2 years following treatment, then showed gradual improvement over the next 10 years.
At 12 years after hospitalization, almost 30 percent of the study participants still had anorexia nervosa. Just over half had no major eating disorder. 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.