Eating disorders, which are associated with a host of adverse medical morbidities, negative psychological sequelae, and considerable reductions in quality of life, should be diagnosed and treated promptly. However, primary care physicians may find it uniquely challenging to detect eating disorders in their early stages, before obvious physical problems arise and while psychological symptoms are subtle. Although psychological symptoms may dominate the presentation, the physician is an integral member of the treatment team and is in a unique role to diagnose and treat eating disorders. This clinical review surveys the eating disorders literature, identified by searching MEDLINE and PubMed for articles published from January 1, 1983, to September 30, 2009, using the following keywords: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, eating disorders, eating disorders NOS, binge eating, binge eating disorder, and night eating syndrome. This review also focuses on practical issues faced by primary care physicians in the management of these conditions and other issues central to the care of these complex patients with medical and psychiatric comorbid conditions.
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