Anorexia Nervosa Causes Death

by atura1 on April 14, 2014 - 8:59am

Dr. Huas, a French doctor specializing in mental health developed a study that would help clinicians better understand the causes and risks of mortality in patients with anorexia nervosa. This study is one of the very few that has aimed to find the specific signs that would lead to mortality in a women with anorexia nervosa; knowing that “anorexia has a one in three mortality rate (Huas, 2011).” The study involved 601 women only, who were admitted in-patient due to meeting the DSM-IV criteria and requirements for anorexia nervosa. All of the women were admitted at Sainte-Anne Hospital in Paris, France. The study lasted for 16 years, between 2004 and 1988. The average age of women admitted into the hospital was 26 years old, with an average onset of anorexia nervosa at 18 years old. As part of an assessment for the study, Huas used the in-patient questionnaire that is required for anyone to be admitted into the Sainte-Anne Hospital. The questionnaire included current, lowest and highest known BMI, the age that the eating disorder started, history of depression and suicide attempts. Other tests such as the bivariate analysis and the multivariate analysis were used. At the end of the study, Huas and other doctors of the French Epidemiological center recorded the total amount of participants that have died since the start of the study. Findings showed that “40 out of the 601 patients had died (7.5%) at an average age of 36 years old. Also, 50% of the patients that have died had done so between the first three years post hospitalization. Half of the causes of death were due to complications with anorexia nervosa, another 17% was due to suicide (Huas, 2011).” Huas concluded that there are six main characteristics that contribute to death in women with anorexia nervosa including, symptoms at an older age, longer length of time that the anorexia has existed, diuretic use (laxatives, weight loss pills, etc) and so on. The main and more obvious characteristic of mortality is the severity of the weight and low BMI. Huas suggests that more studies should be preformed to test other variables such as, younger adolescence, males, duration and different geographic locations.
Huas main purpose for developing this study was to educate. Whether it is clinicians, family members or friends of someone suffering from anorexia nervosa, or even someone fighting their own battle of anorexia, anyone can learn something new from this article that they did not know before. Eating disorders are becoming increasingly more common and the media is typically to blame for it. Everyone deals with trying to find their own ways of fitting in, being liked by peers, and importantly not being so judgmental on their self. Most adolescent girls find nothing wrong with skipping a few meals and become ecstatic when they see that they have lost weight. Typically anorexia nervosa is not diagnosed until it is at a drastic level or maybe even too late. No one ever thinks that they could die by losing weight. Huas does a great job by proving that perspective is not correct. As someone who has been hospitalized for “anorexia nervosa” over a hand full of times I feel that this article would be a good public service announcement for young teenage girls and may scare them straight. I feel like I have cheated death by being alive today; surviving kidney failure, liver and intestinal damage, and a near non-existent heart rate. The physical damage does not even come close to the psychological damage of being in a hospital room for three months, depression, anxiety, crying and panicking over taking a single bite of food, being force fed by a NG feeding tube, being rip away from your friends and family and dropping out of college. No one ever thinks about any of this until it is too late. Huas uses statistics like the mortality from anorexia nervosa that are bone chillingly high to prove all of his arguments and statements. One statistic that hit home for me was that “anorexia nervosa binging-purging subtype was found to constitute a potentially greater risk of death in 2/3 patients (Huas, 2011).” Huas also presented plenty of graphs to support all of his findings and statistics that he found. His article is very clear and easy for an average college student to understand. There are some downfalls to the study; one specific problem was that the study had taken place in France. I strongly believe that the numbers and statistics would be even higher then what was shown in the study; based on my personal experience and our involvement and obsession with the media. This article is a perfect tool for becoming more educated on the topic of anorexia and eating disorders. Although it is just one of many studies, I find (from my personal history) most evidence from the article terrifyingly accurate.


Huas, C.C., Caille, A.A., Godart, N.N., Foulon, C.C., Pham-Scottez, A.A., Divac, S.S., & … Falissard, B.B. (2011). Factors predictive of ten- year mortality in severe anorexia nervosa patients, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 123(1), 62-70, doi:10.1111/j.1600-


This is a very important subject that definitely needs more spotlight, and I’m also really glad to hear you survived this tragic disorder. I strongly agree with the fact that the media plays a big role in taking blame for the insecurity of young girls these days, leading to disorders like anorexia and bulimia, but this short article from Montreal shows biological and psychological factors that most people tend to overlook; perhaps you might be interested in taking a second to read it here:

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