Take Home Messages about Treatment Approaches

1. Anorexia nervosa

a. For children and adolescents, the preferred approach is one involving family-based treatment, where adolescent-focused individual therapy is considered a good alternative.

b. For adults, doing something is better than doing nothing, but we do not know which the best treatments are. Specialist care that involves nutritional and weight restoration in addition to psychotherapy is recommended.

2. Bulimia nervosa

a. Guided self-help approaches can be a good first-line treatment.

b. In terms of psychotherapy, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for adolescents and adults results in the most rapid and best outcome that is sustained over long-term follow up—interpersonal psychotherapy provides commensurate outcome but takes longer to achieve.

c. Antidepressant medication is indicated to be as effective as CBT but is unlikely to produce effects once the person ceases taking the medication so relapse rates are high.

3. Binge eating disorder

a. Relevant aspects of cognitive behaviour therapy used with bulimia nervosa are appropriate but can be less intensive.

b. Therapy can be combined with weight management strategies.


a. Use the treatments indicated earlier for the eating disorder most resembled.


Wade, T., Byrne, S. and Touyz, S. (2013), A clinician's quick guide of evidence-based approaches Number 1: Eating disorders. Clinical Psychologist, 17: 31–32. doi: 10.1111/cp.12004