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New therapy for eating disorders

A seven-year study published by Oxford University has discovered that 80% of adults suffering from eating disorders could be helped by a new style of psychotherapy.

The new therapy comes from an earlier form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for bulimia developed by Professor Christopher Fairburn.

The treatment tackles common issues, such as the desire for perfectionism and low self-esteem, as well as focusing on helping people cope with their eating disorder.

The therapy is suitable for people with "atypical" eating disorders, who account for around 60% of eating disorder sufferers, as well as those with bulimia, who account for around 15%.

These people may show traits of both anorexia and bulimia, including vomiting, bingeing, exercising too much, using laxatives or starving themselves.

The latest version of the treatment, called CBT-E, has two elements, with the first part focusing on the eating disorder itself and associated body image.

A patient will be equipped with new coping mechanisms so they can stop measuring and weighing themselves.

The second part of the treatment looks at tackling related issues, such as low self-esteem and perfectionism. Patients may be helped to adjust the standards they hold for themselves and others.

The study is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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University of Oxford