Newswise — Reston,VA, March 6, 2018 -- People who have eating disorders, their loved ones, and their health care providers usually see “recovery” as the end goal of treatment. However, it’s not clear how to best define recovery from an eating disorder. Is recovery about physical change like weight gain? Behavioral change like no longer binge eating and purging? And/or psychological change like not being as concerned about one’s physical appearance? The lack of consensus on how to define eating disorder recovery poses many problems. Without a definition, it is difficult to assess treatment progress and know when to end therapy. It also means we cannot integrate findings across research studies that have used different definitions of eating disorder recovery. 

The 2018 International Conference on Eating Disorders (ICED), hosted by the Academy for Eating Disorders in Chicago, Illinois, USA, April 19-21, 2018, at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, will tackle this important issue. A plenary entitled, “Recovery from an eating disorder: How do we define it? What does it look like? And should it always be the focus?” will take place at 9 am on Friday, April 20th, 2018. Featuring researcher, clinician, and patient viewpoints on eating disorder recovery, this thought-provoking plenary will address how best to define recovery from an eating disorder. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a consensus definition for use by health care professionals, researchers, patients, and carers.

In the plenary, Dr. Anna Bardone-Cone (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA) will review groundbreaking research that identifies essential components of recovery from an eating disorder. Next, Dr. Phillipa Hay (Western Sydney University, Australia) will suggest that among individuals with very chronic and severe eating disorders, there may be value in adopting a broad perspective on recovery that focuses on quality of life. Eating disorder clinician and former patient Ms. Amy Pershing (Bodywise, USA) will address the merits and pitfalls of viewing recovery as an end goal versus a lifelong process. Finally, Dr. Anna Keski-Rahkonen (University of Helsinki, Finland) will use public health research to shed light on challenges the eating disorders field must address in devising a consensus around this difficult subject.  Together, these different viewpoints will help the eating disorders community consider essential components of eating disorder recovery and when recovery should (and should not) be the focus of treatment. 

More information about ICED 2018 is available on the Academy for Eating Disorders website (