Internet resources for eating disorders

Dr Keith Barnard recommends websites relating to eating disorders

NICE Guidelines
I had to smile while I was looking for these guidelines on the NICE website. The full guidelines are a massive 261 pages, and come in the form of a book.

The government is having a sale — it’s just like Amazon: ‘was £35, now £10’, the site proclaims. Really, I’m not kidding.

Although it is available free as ‘an unsupported download’,  I did not realise some guidelines had to be paid for.

We GPs will be happy with the 20 pages of the quick reference guide, 14 of which contain the useful information.

There is plenty of helpful advice here, but sadly, as is often the case in today’s NHS, many of the recommendations mean little without the resources to back them up. 

Why go there: know what you should be trying to achieve.
Downside: ideal treatment is unavailable to many GPs.
Information from: NICE.

Anorexia nervosa in children
This is not something the average GP will encounter often, but it is sad to record that this debilitating and frustrating disease has been reported in children as young as four.

This is a pretty dry stuff, but worth looking at if only to ensure you maintain awareness. There is also a link to bulimia in children.

Why go there: so you don’t forget it exists.
Downside: dull presentation.
Information from: University of California.

These pages do not contain straightforward clinical information about management or treatment, but are designed to make readers think twice about how they view people with eating disorders.

It is not specifically for health professionals but is an interesting read, with thought-provoking comments and poignant illustrations.

I have dealt with a number of eating disorder cases and anyone who has done this knows just how challenging a condition it can be, and how frustrating.

Why go there: may broaden your view of the problem.
Downside: none.
Information from: Royal College of Psychiatrists.

This seems to be the most popular and authoritative website in the UK for patient information about eating disorders, which is why I am listing it. However I have to say I did not find it inspiring: the presentation is unimaginative and devoid of  images that might increase its impact.

That is not to say it does not contain all the requisite data, and there is also a section for medical professionals, but it is all very bitty with seemingly endless links to various sections that make a simple overview of the key topics difficult to assimilate.

This site doesn’t work for me. Having said that, I understand the site will relaunch this week as, with a new name and a new look.

Why go there: detailed information for patients.
Downside: poor design and navigation.
Information from: Eating Disorders Association

Dr Barnard is a former GP in Fareham, Hampshire.

Website of the week
This website will not tell you how to diagnose, investigate or treat eating disorders. In fact it is not the sort of website I would normally wish to publicise. But I think we need to know that some websites suggest anorexia is a lifestyle choice. This one contains the statement, ‘Some people may think that perhaps it is the gamble with death that makes them do it, but that can’t be it, because the human body is so resilient that death hardly ever occurs as a consequence of anorexia nervosa.’  

It then tries to prove this with spurious statistics. The images on these pages prove the opposite. They are heartbreaking caricatures of womanhood. To suggest we let them get on with it because it is what they want is inexcusable.  This sort of website should stimulate us to do more, not leave them alone.

Why go there: an insight into another world.
Downside: disturbing.
Information from: Fathers for Life.

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