Nutrition Intervention in the Treatment of Eating Disorders

Volume 111, Issue 8, Pages 1236-1241 (August 2011)

This paper was retired December 31, 2015, and was reaffirmed to be updated. This paper remains in effect until the updated paper is published on and the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) that nutrition intervention, including nutritional counseling by a registered dietitian nutrition (RDN), is an essential component of team treatment of patients with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders (EDs) 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 RDNs 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. RDNs 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."