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Eating Disorders Program

UCSF's Pediatric Eating Disorders Program provides outstanding care for children, teens and young adults (up to age 25) with eating disorders, as well as their families. We have based our program on years of research in how to successfully treat young people with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. Our program is one of the few in the nation that can provide seamless inpatient and outpatient care.

Our care team includes adolescent medicine physicians, psychologists, social workers, registered dietitians and nurses, many with decades of experience in eating disorder treatment. Outpatient services include psychological, medical and nutritional evaluation, individual and family therapy and, when appropriate, medication. We are also fully equipped to stabilize patients who are severely underweight or suffering urgent eating-disorder-related health problems, such as heart function abnormalities or electrolyte imbalances.

In addition to providing cutting-edge care, we are leaders in advanced research on eating disorder treatments, both in the hospital and in an outpatient setting.

Outpatient services

All patients receive the following:

  • Comprehensive medical evaluation by a physician specializing in adolescent medicine. If necessary, laboratory tests and an EKG are conducted during the initial visit. Patients who need to be hospitalized for monitoring and care will be transferred to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco.
  • Thorough evaluation by a psychologist, including an in-depth assessment of the patient's symptoms and treatment history.
  • Nutrition evaluation by a dietitian experienced in eating disorders. The dietitian will then develop strategies to help the patient return to healthy eating habits.
  • Individual and family therapy, using methods proven to help patients with eating disorders.
  • Management of any medications.

The treatment team meets weekly to discuss patients' progress and treatment goals and to coordinate their care.

Eating Disorders Intensive Family Treatment Program

The Eating Disorders Intensive Family Treatment (ED-IFT) program is designed for families who don't have access to specialized eating disorders treatment in their community, as well as for adolescents who aren't progressing well in treatment or would otherwise benefit from an intensive outpatient program.

The program features an immersive and concentrated approach specifically designed to quickly improve symptoms by helping families more deeply understand eating disorders, teaching practical skills to help adolescent patients navigate various phases of recovery, and giving guidance on effective strategies for coping with issues connected with the disorder. We strongly encourage all family members to participate, as all play a critical role in supporting the adolescent's recovery.

The five-day program runs from Monday to Friday and includes about 35 hours of treatment for adolescents and their families. ED-IFT is conducted in a multiple-family format, with up to six families involved at a time. This arrangement fosters family-to-family support, learning and a decreased sense of isolation not possible in traditional one-family therapy. Families who would benefit from additional treatment may also work with our team after completing the ED-IFT program.

For more information, please visit the program website or contact our ED-IFT program coordinator, Sam Kushner, at (415) 514-1074.

Inpatient services

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco is fully equipped to stabilize patients who are severely underweight or are having urgent health problems, such as heart function abnormalities or electrolyte imbalances, due to an eating disorder.

Once the patient is admitted to the hospital, the eating disorders team provides the following:

  • Dietary assessment and an individualized meal plan from a registered dietitian
  • Fully supervised meals
  • Patient and family support from a social worker, a psychologist and our experienced nursing staff and child life team

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