21 March 2024


The 1.4 million Australians who suffer from an eating disorder and their families feel the devastating effects of these disorders every day. Now, thanks to a new report from the Butterfly Foundation, we have an insight into the economic and social cost that eating disorders have on the wider community. I was joined by my fellow co-chairs of the parliamentary friends of eating disorder awareness, the member for Goldstein and the member for Fisher, to launch the Paying the price report recently.

The impacts of these disorders are larger and more far-reaching than I think many people would expect. The
economic and social cost of eating disorders is now $67 billion a year. That is the equivalent of $60,700 per
person every year. The cost to the federal government is $4.7 billion annually. An estimated 4.5 per cent of
the population are currently living with an eating disorder, with more than 10 per cent experiencing an eating
disorder at some point in their lifetime. The Paying the price report also tells us that less than 30 per cent of
people with an eating disorder will seek help.

In 2023 there were more than 1,200 deaths due to an eating disorder. That's more than three people every day. Any death due to an eating disorder is one death too many. The report outlines how financially debilitating these conditions can be, with individuals with an eating disorder losing an average of 10 days of work per year, contributing to lower than average wages and a greater likelihood of precarious employment. The total productivity cost to Australia is around $18 billion. These are financial impacts, and we need to do better in supporting people with eating disorders.