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by Jane Morris (Editor)
BMJ Books, 2008
Review by Beth Cholette, Ph.D. on Mar 3rd 2009

ABC of Eating Disorders

This brief volume (70 pages total) is part of the ABC Series, a set of books which are billed as being "written by specialists for non-specialists."  ABC of Eating Disorders features various mental health experts in the eating disorders field (all of whom are based in the United Kingdom, where the book was published) writing for the intended audience of general practitioners in the primary practice health care setting.  Each specialist, including the volume's editor, Jane Morris, presents a relatively short (average of four pages) chapter offering information on one specific aspect of eating disorders, beginning with diagnosis and continuing through various facets of treatment.  Although the majority of the book focuses on Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder is addressed as well.

I am not a primary care provider myself, but I work in a college health and counseling department, and I read this book with my health center colleagues in mind.  Overall, I think that ABC of Eating Disorders would serve as a helpful resource to their practice.  In general, the concise formatting of the chapters allows for quick access to information.  Each chapter begins with bulleted overview, and frequent headings further break down the content.  In addition, the text is highlighted by figures, tables, and boxed case examples.  I found the case vignettes and various other graphic devices to be generally quite useful, but I also found them to be somewhat of a distraction at times, deterring from the overall readability of the book.

Furthermore, I thought that some chapters of the book were clearly more well-done and potentially more useful than others.  Chapters 7 and 8 in particular offer very specific suggestions and advice for exactly how general practitioners can both manage eating disorders and provide psychological support within a primary care practice.  These chapters include information on monitoring weight, referring to a dietician, using psychotropic medications, utilizing a motivational interviewing approach, and tackling common "stuck" points in treatment.  Unfortunately, several of the remaining chapters are so specific to resources available in the UK only that they are of little use or relevance to anyone living outside of that area.

In conclusion, I believe that this book does have some valuable information to offer the primary care practitioner; although some sections of the book may be of limited use, it still may be a worthwhile reference to have on hand.

© 2009 Beth Cholette

Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students at SUNY Geneseo. She is also a Top 100 Reviewer at Amazon.com and the official yoga media reviewer for iHanuman.com.