Eating Disorders in Australia


Eating disorders and disordered eating together are estimated to affect over 16% of the Australian population. Binge eating disorders (BED) and other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED) are the most common eating disorders, affecting approximately 6% and 5%, respectively, while anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) each occur in below 1% of the general population.


Many people with eating disorders also present with at least one other lifetime psychiatric disorder.

Among adolescents, approximately 88% of individuals with bulimia nervosa, 84% of individuals with binge eating disorder, and 55% of individuals with anorexia nervosa have one or more comorbid psychiatric conditions at some point in their lives. 

The most common and significant psychiatric comorbidities for adolescents and adults with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, as well as adults with anorexia nervosa, are mood, anxiety and substance use disorders. In contrast, the only psychiatric disorder that commonly co-occurs with anorexia nervosa is oppositional defiant disorder. 


The mortality rate for people with eating disorders is significantly higher than that of the average population and among the highest for a psychiatric illness. According to recent estimates, mortality is 5 times higher in individuals with anorexia nervosa than the general population, when matched for age and sex. The rate of mortality in individuals with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder is considerably lower than those with anorexia nervosa, but still significantly higher than the general population.


See also

What is an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses; they are not a lifestyle choice or a diet gone ‘too far’. The factsEating disorders are estimated to affect approximately 9% of the Australian population and the rate is increasing. Approximately 15% of Australian women experience an eating disorder during their lifetime.


Who is Affected?

Eating disorders can occur in people of all ages and genders, across all socioeconomic groups, and from any cultural background. AgeAlthough eating disorders can develop at any age, the peak risk period for the onset of an eating disorder is adolescence.


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