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The impact of obesity treatment and dietary guidelines on eating disorders

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To the Editor: We wish to highlight how the recently released National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity1 and the Australian dietary guidelines2 may affect clinical and public health practice. Children, adolescents and adults with obesity are at increased risk of eating disorders (EDs) compared with others in the community.35

The dietary guidelines provide sound nutritional advice to improve the health of the Australian population. Importantly, the document states, “When promoting healthy weight . . . it is essential to avoid inadvertently encouraging disturbed body image and disordered eating or exercise behaviour”.2 This is essential to changing the way government health campaigns on obesity are delivered, as previous campaigns may have increased obesity stigma and body image distress, both known contributors to EDs.

Restrictive eating in the community (but not participation in carefully designed health professional…