Tips for Feeding or Eating Disorders in adults

Tip Sheet 3 - What Medical Investigations?

Who is this for?

These tips have been developed for professionals working across health care; from primary care to hospital general services through to mental health teams and specialist adult eating disorder services.



This is the third of four tip sheets to provide you with condensed learning on feeding or eating disorders (FEDs) in adults aged 18 years and over. Tips for working with FEDs in children and young people up to age 18 are available separately here. This tip sheet, focused on what to ask for and what investigations to perform, will be most relevant to GPs and other medical professionals assessing and supporting patients with FEDs.

Early rapid investigation and prompt review of results from investigations are critical, wrapped inside a comprehensive person-centred care plan. Equally important to bear in mind, are the distortions to thinking that the eating disorder can create. Be aware that a very important effect of distorted thinking is lack of insight about the feeding or eating problem. Careful assessment is supported by appropriate medical investigations.

Clinical detection can be challenging. This includes being aware of the secrecy and shame sufferers experience. Be mindful that building trust and rapport will support your assessment. Be alert to hidden aspects of the person’s FED.

Screening questionnaires and tools to help spot and identify feeding or eating disorders (FEDs)

Severely ill and admitted patients

Physical investigations to consider in all patients

A medical doctor or nurse or other trained professional must check and date the following:

Reasons for blood tests

Diabetes mellitus type 1

Red Flags in Primary Care

When you identify multiple red alerts across physical domains, discuss referral to acute medical care

For patients who need to regain weight in acute settings, staff should have agreed protocols in place for refeeding


Further Information




Further elearning from NHS HEE & MindEd

All ages - NHS HEE TEL Resources


These tips have been curated, drawn and adapted from a range of existing learning, including MindEd, NHS England, NICE, MEEDs guidance, NHS HEE elfh/BEAT/RCPsych resources. Extracts from the MEEDs are included with permission courtesy of the MEEDs team.  

The content has been edited by Dr Karina Allen (MindEd adult eating disorder Editor) and Dr Raphael Kelvin ( NHS England MindEd Consortium Clinical Educator Lead) with close support of the inner expert group of Dr Nikola Kern, Dr Paul Robinson, Dr William Rhys Jones, and Prof Ulrike Schmidt.

We also acknowledge the support and input of our wider expert stakeholder group including BEAT, the MindEd Consortium, and NHS England/Health Education England.


This document provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this document, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read in this document or in any linked materials. If you think you may have an emergency, call an appropriate source of help and support such as your doctor or emergency services immediately.

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© 2023 NHS England, MindEd Programme 

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