Medical information and resources

Overview of eating disorders
for professionals

To date, very little training is given either to the general public, or in medical school, about eating disorders (Brownlow & Treasure 2012). While we hope this will change in the near future, we offer information days and seminars (see here) and below you will find diagnostic criteria plus some ideas for further reading:

Internationally agreed Diagnostic Criteria:

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Refusal to maintain body weight normal for age or height
  • Intense fear of of gaining weight
  • Body dysmorphia – disturbance in the way they experience their weight or shape – denial of the seriousness of their low body weight
  • In post menarcheal females amenorrhea for 3 consecutive months

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating accompanied by a sense of loss of control during the episode.
  • Recurrent episodes of inappropriate behavior to compensate and avoid weight gain – vomiting, overuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, fasting or excessive exercise (these two occurring at least twice a week over a period of 3 months).
  • Self-evaluation influenced by body weight or shape.
  • Non-purging Bulimia where the compensatory behaviours are fasting or excessive exercising.

EDNOS (Eating disorders not otherwise specified)

  • All the criteria for anorexia but with menses
  • All the criteria for anorexia but current weight in normal range
  • Bulimia but criteria less than twice a week over 3 months
  • Repeatedly chewing and spitting out, but not swallowing, large amounts of food

Binge Eating Disorder

Binges as for bulimia but without compensatory behaviour

How does recovery happen?

Eating disorders rarely get better without help. The targeted approach of the tastelife course is suitable for all eating disorders. In the most severe cases of anorexia, hospitalisation is necessary as a first stage. However, simple refeeding is seldom effective in the long term. Typical responses otherwise include therapy such as anti-depressants, CBT, CAT etc. Please refer to the following books and journals for more information.

Useful books and journal articles

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Eating Disorders, Fairburn, Christopher G,Guilford Press 2008

Eating Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence (4th Ed) Lask Bryan & Bryant-Waugh, Rachel, Routledge 2013

Therapy for Eating Disorders: Theory, Reseach & Practice, Gilbert, Sara, SAGE Publications Ltd 2013

Can I tell you about Eating Disorders?: A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals, Lask, Bryan,

Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2014

Nutrition Counselling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders, Herrin, Marcia, Routledge 2013

Eating Disorders and Obesity: (2nd Ed), Fairburn, Christopher G,& Brownell, Kelly D. Guilford Press 2008

Squires et al, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth (2014) Eating disorders symptoms in pregnancy: A longitudinal study of women with recent and past eating disorders and obesity

Cooley, E et al (2008) ‘Maternal effects on daughters’ eating pathology and body image’ Eat Behav 9:52-61

Blisset, J. and Meyer, C. (2006) ‘The mediating role of eating psychopathology in the relationship between unhealthy core beliefs and feeding difficulties in a nonclinical group’ Int J Eat Disord 39:763-71

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