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 gaining weight
  • Body dysmorphia (an inability to see the body as it really is)
  • medically dangerous

Bulimia Nervosa

  • as anorexia but
  • weight not necessarily a problem
  • bingeing on large amounts of food and the use of purging behaviours such as vomiting or taking laxatives at least once a week to help them not to gain weight
  • medically dangerous

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Binges as for Bulimia Nervosa (without compensatory behaviour

OFSED (other specified feeding and eating disorders)

  • includes atypical anorexia
  • subthreshold binge eating disorder
  • purging disorder (PD)
  • night eating syndrome
  • unspecified feeding and eating disorders (UFED) representing cases where behaviours cause clinically significant distress/impairment of functioning, but fail to meet full criteria for a feeding or eating disorder

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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