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Prevention and early treatment of eating disorders

Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, boulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), are serious psychiatric disorders that often have serious physical consequences. On average it takes four years until someone gets adequate help. This is due to a lack of knowledge among children and adolescents, their parents and healthcare professionals, long waiting lists and fragmented provision of care. The Council recommends to focus on improving mental well-being and resilience of young people, for example by improving their self-confidence and to teach them how to use social media responsibly and critically. Children and adolescents should realise that they are ill at an earlier stage and people around them should recognise the problem sooner. Early recognition requires a good screening tool. Gains can also be made by offering low-threshold treatments, which should start immediately after the diagnosis. This will prevent the deterioration of complaints and will help to bridge the waiting time for specialist treatment or will even make such treatment unnecessary. The Council recommends a national, uniform approach to eating disorders, which can be carried out at regional or municipal level. The Council recommends to invest in research about early recognition of eating disorders, effective interventions and comorbidity with other illnesses.