Anorexia nervosa: 30-year outcome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background Little is known about the long-term outcome of anorexia nervosa.Aims To study the 30-year outcome of adolescent-onset anorexia nervosa.Method All 4291 individuals born in 1970 and attending eighth grade in 1985 in Gothenburg, Sweden were screened for anorexia nervosa. A total of 24 individuals (age cohort for anorexia nervosa) were pooled with 27 individuals with anorexia nervosa (identified through community screening) who were born in 1969 and 1971-1974. The 51 individuals with anorexia nervosa and 51 school- and gender-matched controls were followed prospectively and examined at mean ages of 16, 21, 24, 32 and 44. Psychiatric disorders, health-related quality of life and general outcome were assessed.Results At the 30-year follow-up 96% of participants agreed to participate. There was no mortality. Of the participants, 19% had an eating disorder diagnosis (6% anorexia nervosa, 2% binge-eating disorder, 11% other specified feeding or eating disorder); 38% had other psychiatric diagnoses; and 64% had full eating disorder symptom recovery, i.e. free of all eating disorder criteria for 6 consecutive months. During the elapsed 30 years, participants had an eating disorder for 10 years, on average, and 23% did not receive psychiatric treatment. Good outcome was predicted by later age at onset among individuals with adolescent-onset anorexia nervosa and premorbid perfectionism.Conclusions This long-term follow-up study reflects the course of adolescent-onset anorexia nervosa and has shown a favourable outcome regarding mortality and full symptom recovery. However, one in five had a chronic eating disorder.


  • Sandra Rydberg Dobrescu
  • Lisa DInkler
  • Carina I Gillberg
  • Maria Råstam
  • Christopher Gillberg
  • Elisabet Wentz
External organisations
  • Sahlgrenska Academy
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychiatry
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Anorexia nervosa, case-control, outcome, population based
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-104
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch