Treatment of eating disorders in children and adolescents

Clin Psychol Rev. 1998 Jun;18(4):421-46. doi: 10.1016/s0272-7358(98)00013-0.


Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are expressed differently in children and adolescents than in adults. Consequently, diagnostic procedures and multidisciplinary treatments need to be tailored to the unique developmental, medical, nutritional, and psychological needs of children and adolescents with eating disorders. This paper reviews current research outlining the differences between child, adolescent, and adult eating disorders. Research is then reviewed concerning the effectiveness of hospitalization, partial hospitalization, individual dynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, family therapy, and medication for treating anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and related eating disorders in children and adolescents. Specific recommendations are made for practitioners to tailor these treatments to their eating-disordered child and adolescent patients, following a stepped-care, decision-tree model of intervention that takes into account the effectiveness, cost, and intrusiveness of the interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bulimia / therapy
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / classification
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / physiopathology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Antidepressive Agents