Online Course written for the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)

With a reach of over 90,000 primary health care professionals and with credits towards CPD and revalidation, this course establishes best practice for GPs in their care for patients. This is vital as waiting times for more specialist services are so long because many patients prefer to rely only on their GP; and since many are deemed ineligible for further care and support.

With only 46% of people recovering from an eating disorder and increasing prevalence, GPs are under increasing pressure to monitor and safeguard the physical health of these vulnerable patients and also deliver care, support and signposting for parents and partners. 

This course explores the range of eating disorders and how patients affected by them may present to their GP. It offers practical advice to enable clinicians to assess, manage and monitor such patients and know when to refer and when to be concerned.

Endorsed by the RCGP, this course was examined and approved in two rounds of peer review through GP members of the Royal College, practising in various parts of the UK and then by the RCGP’s Director of E-learning.  

Curriculum Field: 3.10 Care of people with mental health problems and will count towards your CPD. This course offers an accreditation beyond that conferred by the CPD Association.

To access the RCGP course on eating disorders, please email

Spotting the signs in patients

Recognising an eating disorder or spotting the signs of an emerging eating disorder can be challenging and often patients will not admit to having an issue with their mental and physical health and an increasingly difficult relationship with food. It is important to remember that many patients have disturbed thinking about themselves, and their weight and shape, well before the effects on their body or weight become noticeable.

If these signs are recognised and the patient is supported, the eating disorder may not fully establish. Early intervention for recovery is supported in the NICE 2004 guidelines.

Basic physical checks

The following physical checks are recommended to assist GPs and medical practitioners in making an assessment:

  • Weight

  • Height 

  • Calculate BMI in adults, plot height and weight on centile charts for children

  • Blood pressure (lying and standing) and heart rate

  • Temperature 

  • Blood tests - FBC, U and E, LFTs, CK, Glucose

  • Tests of muscle strength; squat-stand test and sit up test (these would not routinely be done within general practice but can be very helpful in the assessment of those for whom there are significant medical concerns)

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