A physician´s role in preventing Eating Disorders


Primary Prevention

Reducing or eliminating the problem by understanding and addressing causes and risk factors.  Physicians are doing primary prevention whether they know it or not when they:

  • Educate patients about nutrition.
  • Play role of health educator.
  • Encourage healthy physical activity.
  • Promote positive body image.
  • Help families to communicate effectively, have healthy relationships, and build self-esteem.
  • Guide parents and children through the challenges of growth and individuation.

Secondary Prevention

Identifying the problem early, before it becomes severe.  Physicians play an important role by:

  • Noticing changes in physical parameters such as growth, weight, vital signs.
  • Sharing concerns and providing initial counselling.
  • Educating patients about the importance of adequate nutrition and health habits.
  • Consulting to schools, athletic organizations, and other influential groups.

Tertiary Prevention

Developing strategies to keep the problem from getting worse.  Again, physicians are unique in their ability to:

  • Refer for appropriate therapy by knowing the resources in their area.
  • Break the denial by giving an historic perspective of their observations of the patient’s condition and potential consequences of the eating disorder.
  • Educate patients about the positive benefits of treatment.
  • Monitor medical status and keep patients stable while treatment proceeds.
  • Set a positive example of needing others by collaborating and communicating with mental health professionals.
  • Advocate for appropriate care when third party payers deny it.

Danger Zones

Physicians, despite good intentions, sometimes make the following mistakes:

  • Setting or agreeing to an artificially low body weight.
  • Sharing own concerns with food, weight, body image.
  • Expressing negative feelings regarding fat people.
  • Being over-concerned about the increase in obesity and therefore unable to identify pathogenic weight control.
  • Supporting restrictive dieting.
  • Not working collaboratively with other providers.
  • While attempting to support the patient or family, undermining treatment and reinforcing resistance.

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The Have I Got A Problem website is a free online resource to help people better understand any issues or concerns they may have about mental health or addiction. The website includes resources specifically focused to; general Mental Health, Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Insecurities, Self-harm Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Anger Management, Eating Disorders, Coping, general Addiction, Alcohol, Smoking, Gambling, Drugs, Cocaine, Heroin, Marijuana (Cannabis) Ecstasy, PCP, Mephedrone, Ketamine & Crystal Meth.

The site was created to give the public information to help them understand mental health and addiction issues and to assist people in making better informed decisions about their life and personal choices.

www.haveigotaproblem.com was created and is run by 'Advising Communities’, which is a UK registered charity (Charity No. 1061055)


"I was really into ballet, which, combined with going through puberty, was a recipe for body issues. I began with food restriction, as most do, and the vicious cycle began. I didn’t know it was an eating disorder."


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