Looking for eating disorder support in your area? Visit HelpFinder

Guideline for treatment of EDs updated for first time in 13 years

Today, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published a revised guideline covering the assessment, treatment, monitoring and inpatient care for children, young people and adults with eating disorders. The previous guideline was released in 2004, and this new version has been informed by new evidence and research into the treatment of eating disorders over the past 13 years.

Among other updates, the organisation has added that patients should be referred to community-based, age-appropriate eating disorder services “immediately” if an eating disorder is suspected, more strongly condemned the use of physical measurements as the only indicator of severity, and outlined that individuals should not be travelling lengthy distances for treatment. They have also placed importance on care plans for people admitted to an inpatient facility, stating that the plan should be developed with the patient and their carers, and thought should be given to the objective of their admission and transition back to the community.  

Tom Quinn, Director of External Affairs at Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, said: “We welcome the publication of the new NICE guidelines, which will provide invaluable guidance to healthcare professionals.

“With early intervention our primary focus, we are delighted to see that this is highlighted in the new guidance, with referral recommended immediately and a clear instruction that healthcare professionals should be looking at mental health indicators rather than a focus on physical measures to indicate severity of the illness.

“However, we need to see this guidance in practice. We know the current treatment landscape for individuals suffering from these serious mental illnesses is patchy; the service they receive from those at primary care through to inpatient wards is not consistent and, at times, lets the individual and their families down. We hear stories of individuals needing to travel hundreds of miles away from their home to access treatment because there is none available nearby, or that the waiting times for treatment leave people feeling unworthy of the help they deserve.

“We have launched a campaign to ask candidates standing in the general election on 8 June to pledge support for action on eating disorders. We urge the next Government to ensure that 100% of individuals can access the treatment they need without delay.”


Case studies and spokespeople available on request.

For more information, please contact Beat’s press office on 0300 123 7061;

Notes to editors

The full guideline can be found on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s website.

About Beat

Beat is the UK’s eating disorder charity. We are a champion, guide and friend to anyone affected by eating disorders.

We provide information and support through Helplines that people can call or email, online support including information, message boards and online support groups, and HelpFinder, an online directory of support services.

We provide expert training, resources and consultancy to health and social care professionals and schools and support and encourage research into eating disorders.

Beat was formed in 1989. Since then, we have been committed to supporting those affected by eating disorders and working towards our vision: an end to the pain and suffering of eating disorders.

About eating disorders

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses and include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Eating disorders are complex and there is no one single cause or reason why someone develops an eating disorder. A whole range of different factors combine, such as genetic, psychological, environmental, social and biological influences.

At least 1.25 million people in the UK of all ages, genders, and backgrounds have an eating disorder. Eating disorders can be fatal, and anorexia has a higher mortality rate than any other mental illness.

Although serious, eating disorders are treatable conditions and full recovery is possible. The sooner someone gets the treatment they need, the more likely they are to make a full recovery.