Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition intervention in the treatment of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders.
More than 5 million Americans suffer from eating disorders. Five percent of females and 1% of males have anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder. It is estimated that 85% of eating disorders have their onset during the adolescent age period.
The Police Statement of the American Dietetic Association that nutrition intervention, including nutritional counseling, by a registered dietitian (RD) is an essential component of the team treatment of patients with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders during assessment and treatment across the continuum of care.
Diagnostic criteria for EDs provide important guidelines for identification and treatment. In addition, individuals may experience disordered eating that extends along a range from food restriction to partial conditions to diagnosed EDs. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of RDs is critical to the effective care of individuals with EDs. The complexities of EDs, such as epidemiologic factors, treatment guidelines, special populations, and emerging trends highlight the nature of EDs, which require a collaborative approach by an interdisciplinary team of mental health, nutrition, and medical specialists. RDs are integral members of treatment teams and are uniquely qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy for the normalization of eating patterns and nutritional status. However, this role requires understanding of the psychologic and neurobiologic aspects of EDs. Advanced training is needed to work effectively with this population. Further efforts with evidenced-based research must continue for improved treatment outcomes related to EDs, along with identification of effective primary and secondary interventions. This paper supports the “Practice Paper of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition Intervention in the Treatment of Eating Disorders” published online at http://www.eatright.org/positions
The nature of eating disorders requires a collaborative approach by an interdisciplinary team of psychological, nutritional, and medical specialists. The RD is an integral member of the treatment team and is uniquely qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy for the normalization of eating patterns and nutritional status.
Although Eating Disorders fall under the category of psychiatric diagnoses, there are a number of nutritional and medical problems and issues that require the expertise of a registered dietitian. Because of the complex biopsychosocial aspects of eating disorders, the optimal assessment and ongoing management of these conditions appears to be with an interdisciplinary team consisting of professionals from medical, nursing, nutritional, and mental health disciplines (1). Medical Nutrition Therapy provided by a registered dietitian trained in the area of eating disorders plays a significant role in the treatment and management of eating disorders. The registered dietitian, however, must understand the complexities of eating disorders such as comorbid illness, medical and psychological complications, and boundary issues. The registered dietitian needs to be aware of the specific populations at risk for eating disorders and the special considerations when dealing with these individuals.
RDs provide nutritional counseling, recognize clinical signs related to eating disorders, and assist with medical monitoring while cognizant of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy that are cornerstones of eating disorder treatment. Specialized resources are available for RDs to advance their level of expertise in the field of eating disorders. Further efforts with evidenced-based research must continue for improved treatment outcomes related to eating disorders along with identification of effective primary and secondary interventions.
1. American Dietetic Association.J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Dec;106(12):2073-82.
Position of the American Dietetic Association: nutrition intervention in the treatment of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS).
2. American Dietetic Association. J Am Diet Assoc. 2001 Jul;101(7):810-9.
3. Ozier AD, et al. Position of the American Dietetic Association: nutrition intervention in the treatment of eating disorders.J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Aug;111(8):1236-41.
4. Tholking MM, et al. American Dietetic Association: standards of practice and standards of professional performance for registered dietitians (competent, proficient, and expert) in disordered eating and eating disorders (DE and ED). J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Aug;111(8):1242-1249.e37.
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