MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A Harvard study that looked at data from fiscal year 2018-19 found that the economic cost of eating disorders in Alabama was $966.6 million. The annual loss of well-being was another $4.9 billion per year in the state.

The most recent study of the correlation between economic impact and eating disorders was done in 2021. This study revealed that 9% of Alabamians–or roughly 430,271 people– will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.

The cost breakdown is as follows:

  • Productivity loss – $726.1 million
  • Informal Care – $100.1 million
  • Efficiency Losses – $71.7 million
  • Health System – $68.7 million

The study showed that in Alabama, an average of 805 visits will be made to the ER, costing $437,741. 351 people will be placed in impatient hospitals, which costs $3.1 million.

The Alabama government lost $264.4 million, employers lost $243.5 million, individuals and families lost $351.1 million and the society lost $106.1 million.

The three eating disorders most known are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. Although these three are the main ones discussed in society, there are actually nine different forms of eating disorders. The National Eating Disorders Association website provides information on all nine.

Eating DisorderDetails
Anorexia NervosaAnorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss (or lack of appropriate weight gain in growing children); difficulties maintaining an appropriate body weight for height, age, and stature; and, in many individuals, distorted body image.
Bulimia NervosaBulimia nervosa is characterized by a cycle of binge eating and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.
Binge Eating DisorderBinge eating disorder, the most common eating disorder in the United States, is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food; a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.
OrthorexiaOrthorexia was coined in 1998 to describe an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating.
Other Specified Feeding or Eating DisorderOSFED, known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) in previous editions of the DSM, was developed to encompass individuals who do not meet strict criteria for anorexia or bulimia but still have a significant eating disorder.
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake DisorderARFID, previously referred to as “selective eating disorder,” involves limitations in the amount and/or types of food consumed but does not involve any distress about body shape or size, or fears of fatness.
PicaPica is an eating disorder that involves eating items that are not typically thought of as food and that do not contain significant nutritional value, such as hair, dirt, and paint chips.
Rumination DisorderRumination disorder involves the regular regurgitation of food that occurs for at least one month. Regurgitated food may be re-chewed, re-swallowed, or spit out.
Unspecified Feeding or Eating DisorderUnspecified feeding or eating disorder (UFED) applies to presentations where symptoms characteristic of a feeding and eating disorder that cause clinically significant distress or impairment predominate but do not meet the full criteria for any of the disorders in the feeding and eating disorders diagnostic class.

In 2019, there were roughly 10,200 deaths due to eating disorders across the United States.