A review of treatment manuals for adults with an eating disorder: nutrition content and consistency with current dietetic evidence



This study aimed to summarise the nutrition and food-related content of treatment manuals for adults with eating disorders (EDs) and assess the degree to which this information conforms with current guidelines and literature.


Treatment manuals for adults with an ED were identified by conducting an online search of Internet book dealer Amazon and University of Sydney library catalogue as per methods used in previous reviews of self-help patient resources. The nutrition and food-related content of these manuals was extracted and reviewed independently by two reviewers using a criteria based on current best evidence to date regarding dietetic treatment for EDs.


Twenty-two manuals met inclusion criteria, 20 (91%) of which contained some degree of nutrition and food-related content. Two manuals (9%) included content written by a dietitian, six (27%) included citation of dietetic literature to support the recommendations made and eight (36%) recommended a dietitian be consulted as part of a multidisciplinary approach to treatment. Thirteen manuals (60%) contained nutrition and food-related information not substantiated by current evidence.


It is common for treatment manuals for EDs to contain nutrition and food-related content. However, most of the authors of the 22 manuals identified did not appear to collaborate with a dietitian in writing this content or cite peer-reviewed literature to substantiate dietary advice given. Consistent with current clinical practice guidelines, greater collaboration between dietitians and clinicians is required to develop, evaluate and disseminate evidence-based approaches to dietetic management.

Level of evidence

Level V, narrative review.

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Caitlin M McMaster is a recipient of a Research Training Program scholarship from the Australian Government, Department of Education and Training.

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McMaster, C.M., Wade, T., Franklin, J. et al. A review of treatment manuals for adults with an eating disorder: nutrition content and consistency with current dietetic evidence. Eat Weight Disord 26, 47–60 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-020-00850-6

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  • Dietetics
  • Feeding and eating disorders
  • Nutrition therapy
  • Psychotherapy