7. Treating Eating Disorders: Some Legal and Ethical Issues

  1. John R. E. Fox2 and
  2. Ken P. Goss3
  1. Simona Giordano

Published Online: 3 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118328910.ch7

Eating and its Disorders

Eating and its Disorders

How to Cite

Giordano, S. (2012) Treating Eating Disorders: Some Legal and Ethical Issues, in Eating and its Disorders (eds J. R. E. Fox and K. P. Goss), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118328910.ch7

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Division of Clinical Psychology, University of Manchester, UK

  2. 3

    Coventry Eating Disorders Service, United Kingdom

Author Information

  1. Institute for Science Ethics and Innovation, School of Law, the University of Manchester, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 3 OCT 2012
  2. Published Print: 9 OCT 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470683545

Online ISBN: 9781118328910



  • anorexia nervosa (AN);
  • coercive treatment;
  • eating disorders (EDs);
  • ethical complexities;
  • legislation;
  • medical treatment;
  • mental disorders;
  • Mental Health Act (MHA)


This chapter highlights some of the clinical, ethical and legal complexities surrounding the clinical work with eating-disordered clients. It first discusses the potential benefits and risks of coercive treatment, and then focuses on the quandaries present within the English legislation (the relationship between Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) and Mental Health Act (MHA), the ethical questions raised by the MHA and the international scene). It offers a critical account of the laws that regulate treatment of so-called mental illnesses, which apply to the case of eating disorders (EDs) and particularly anorexia nervosa (AN). The chapter aims at providing an instrument, particularly for healthcare professionals working with eating-disordered clients, to reflect upon their own practice.