Newswise — A new HBO documentary provides a jarring glimpse into the lives of four young women with eating disorders who are receiving treatment at a residential facility, one of many options for treatment of these devastating diseases that affect approximately 30 million Americans. The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) has recently issued a patient's bill of rights to help guide people with eating disorders and their families as they seek the best option for treatment.

A comprehensive evaluation is key to successful eating disorders treatment. But what does it mean to be "comprehensive" ?

"Patients and their families often do not know where to turn for treatment or what questions to ask when choosing a program. The AED's bill of rights addresses this need," said Eric van Furth, Ph.D., FAED, clinical director of the Centre for Eating Disorders Ursula in Leidschendam, The Netherlands, and president of the AED. A good evaluation should include:

"¢ a thorough understanding of a patient's history, current symptoms, physical status, weight control measures and other psychiatric issues, including depression and substance abuse; and

"¢ consultation with a physician and registered dietician.

As depicted in "Thin," airing Nov. 14 on HBO, a variety of treatments are available, ranging from outpatient treatment to hospitalized care to residential care.

When treatment options are being discussed patients should demand and expect:

"¢ a clear explanation of the scientifically proven methods of the treatment options; and

"¢ that those making the recommendations — for example, a psychotherapist, physician, and dietitian — have advanced clinical training and experience in treating eating disorders and approach the decision with the patient as a coordinated team effort.

"When seeking help, it is essential that patients understand what the program involves and how progress will be evaluated," said Dr. van Furth. The AED recommends that treatment be conducted in the least restrictive setting possible to ensure the likelihood of success once therapy has been completed. Despite that, some patients need more restrictive care settings for safety, which can include day hospital care, inpatient treatment and residential care, as depicted in "Thin."

Whether outpatient or inpatient, treatment may include psychotherapy, medication, nutritional counseling and medical treatment.

Most people who suffer from eating disorders are young women; 2 million of them will progress to full-blown anorexia nervosa, and 10 percent will die.

The Academy for Eating Disorders is an international, transdisciplinary professional organization with more than 1,400 members worldwide. The AED promotes excellence in research, treatment and the prevention of eating disorders. The organization provides education, training and a forum for collaboration and professional dialogue. For the AED's patient treatment bill of rights, Worldwide Charter for Action on Eating Disorders, or for more information about the AED or eating disorders, please visit