Eating Disorders Program | Overview
Eating disorders can be extremely hard on both teens and on their families. Here at Boston Children’s Hospital, our Eating Disorders Program unites specialists in Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, mental health services, and nutrition to care for your child’s unique needs, from the medical and the nutritional to the psychological.
Each year, we evaluate and provide ongoing care to hundreds of adolescents struggling with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, binge eating disorder, and related eating disorders. We have a range of services available to help teens, including consultation, medical evaluation, medical treatment, mental health consultation, nutrition evaluation, and counseling and psychiatric evaluation.
The mission of the Boston Children's Hospital Outpatient Eating Disorders Program is to provide high quality, interdisciplinary, comprehensive care to youth and their families who are struggling with eating disorders.
Since the 1980s, the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital has been working to address the growing incidence of eating disorders in teens and adolescents.
The program began under the leadership of Robert Masland, MD, the former chief of Adolescent Medicine at Boston Children’s. Over the years, through the direction of Eugene Piazza, MD; Alexandra Elliott, MS, PhD, LICSW; Sara F. Forman, MD; and Tracy Richmond, MD, MPH, we have grown into a multidisciplinary program with medical, mental health, and nutrition providers. Every year, the program offers support and hope to hundreds of adolescents battling eating disorders.
The Eating Disorders Program provides a wide range of comprehensive services for patients and physicians:
- medical evaluation (comprehensive physical exam, laboratory testing)
- medical treatment (nutritional rehabilitation, counseling, medication, hormonal therapies)
- mental health consultation
- nutrition evaluation and counseling
- psychiatric evaluation
In addition to all the services listed above, we also provide outpatient medical care for adolescents struggling with eating disorders. Specialist nurses, registered dietitians, and psychiatrists all work together to help adolescents hospitalized because of an uncontrolled eating disorder.
The staff in our program will work hand in hand with your primary care doctor and, when appropriate, make referrals to providers with expertise in treating eating disorders in your own community.
We can also provide guidance to many providers in the northeastern United States and beyond. Specialists from the Eating Disorders Program and other members of the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine have helped develop inpatient clinical guidelines for children who are admitted to the hospital for eating disorder-related medical needs.
Our providers also consulted with the National Eating Disorders Screening Project. They have advocated for insurance coverage for eating disorders at the Massachusetts State House and give frequent presentations on eating disorders throughout New England, the U.S., and internationally.
Health and your community
We all know that good nutritional habits and adequate exercise are important, but social and physical environments can also play a big part in staying healthy. Boston Children’s researchers Tracy Richmond, MD, and S. Bryn Austin, ScD, are investigating how school and community settings affect adolescent nutrition, physical activity, and risk of eating disorders — and are working to design and evaluate school- and community-based programs that encourage healthy nutritional habits.
Youth and media
Everywhere young people look, they’re bombarded with images generated by the media of what they “should” look like. Almost always, these images have been manipulated and touched up. Today’s youth see these pictures everywhere, from the covers of their favorite magazines to ads on TV, and it’s clear that these images can contribute to a negative body image, which in some cases can increase the chance of an adolescent developing an eating disorder. Learn more about the Boston Children’s Digital Wellness Lab.