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Book Forum: Disorders of Appetite and Reward Systems   |    
Eating Disorders: A Guide to Medical Care and Complications
KATHERINE A. HALMI, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:1754-1754. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.158.10.1754
View Author and Article Information
White Plains, N.Y.

Edited by Philip S. Mehler, M.D., and Arnold E. Anderson, M.D. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000, 200 pp., $38.00; $18.95 (paper).

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This book is a handy reference for busy practitioners who need to know the bottom line quickly in the medical care of patients with eating disorders. This book consists of 15 chapters covering diagnosis, medical evaluation, and specific medical problems in eating disorders. Each chapter begins with a list of common questions and has numerous tables, referred to as "boxes" in the book. In most chapters the boxes consist of valuable, concisely presented facts for the reader. In a few chapters, however, the contents of the boxes are rambling and redundant.

Several chapters are especially useful and deserve special mention. Chapter 3, on the medical evaluation of the patient with an eating disorder, is well written and well organized and presents concise and practical information for the busy practitioner. There are expedient rules for refeeding in the chapter on nutritional rehabilitation.

Although the chapter on electrolyte abnormalities gives sound medical advice for repletion of electrolytes, it does not emphasize that the most effective way to correct chronic electrolyte abnormalities is to prevent purging behavior. The chapter on cardiovascular risks has some fine illustrations with excellent case examples and well-written, concise tips for dealing with cardiac complications. A useful algorithm in chapter 8 guides the physician through a reasonable approach to the treatment of osteoporosis in anorexia nervosa. All of the chapters have case examples, which are helpful and very upbeat, since all of the case reports have good outcomes. A chapter devoted to treatment failures and concomitant medical issues would have added a more comprehensive perspective of the medical care of eating disorders. A cheerleader approach to the treatment of eating disorders is advantageous for the physician because it is likely that many of these patients will require repeated medical interventions.

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