Early Interventions Eating Disorders

About the programme

An eating disorder is an unhealthy attitude to food, which can take over an individual’s life and cause illness. It can involve eating too much or too little, or becoming obsessed with your weight and body shape. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating disorder (BED), and other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED).

Eating disorders are serious mental health problems with high levels of mortality.

Peak onset for eating disorders is during adolescence and early adulthood, a sensitive time when the brain is still developing. Evidence from research studies suggests that treatment outcomes are best if the condition is identified and treated at the earliest opportunity, within the first three years of illness.

Resources to treat eating disorders are currently stretched for adults (aged 18 and over) and access to evidence-based treatment and care is often delayed until patients show considerable deterioration. This causes distress to individuals and families and increased costs to the NHS.

In 2013-2015, eating disorders cost the NHS between £3.9 to £4.6 billion each year in treatment costs, and £9.4 to £11.1 billion each year in indirect costs. 30% of young people referred for eating disorders treatment waited over 18 weeks and another 34% waited over six months. For many, their condition worsens whilst waiting.

Programme ambitions

The project is aiming to achieve the following:

  • Earlier intervention and treatment of eating disorders in young people
  • Reduction in the length of time young people have untreated eating disorders
  • Reduction in waiting times, day/in-patient admissions and bed days
  • Cost savings through reduced use of healthcare services, in particular reduced need for day/in-patient admissions.

Find out more

Get in touch with a member of the project team below to find out how you can get involved.


Project team

Victoria Savage

Innovation Programme Manager

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