Eating disorders

Lancet. 2003 Feb 1;361(9355):407-16. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)12378-1.


Eating disorders are an important cause of physical and psychosocial morbidity in adolescent girls and young adult women. They are much less frequent in men. Eating disorders are divided into three diagnostic categories: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and the atypical eating disorders. However, the disorders have many features in common and patients frequently move between them, so for the purposes of this Seminar we have adopted a transdiagnostic perspective. The cause of eating disorders is complex and badly understood. There is a genetic predisposition, and certain specific environmental risk factors have been implicated. Research into treatment has focused on bulimia nervosa, and evidence-based management of this disorder is possible. A specific form of cognitive behaviour therapy is the most effective treatment, although few patients seem to receive it in practice. Treatment of anorexia nervosa and atypical eating disorders has received remarkably little research attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa* / classification
  • Anorexia Nervosa* / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa* / etiology
  • Anorexia Nervosa* / therapy
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bulimia* / classification
  • Bulimia* / diagnosis
  • Bulimia* / etiology
  • Bulimia* / therapy
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Family / psychology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Health Priorities
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment
  • Psychotherapy
  • Recurrence
  • Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents