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Investing in Need: Cost-effective interventions for eating disorders

In 2014, the Butterfly commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to undertake a cost benefit analysis of treatment for eating disorders in Australia. The report, Investing in Need: cost effective interventions for eating disorders report, examines the cost-effectiveness of ‘treatment as usual’ versus ‘optimal treatment’ for eating disorders in Australia, using the prevalence trends and costing framework from the 2012 Deloitte Report Paying the Price.

The Investing in Need report was launched by The Hon. Sussan Ley, Minister for Health at Parliament House on Monday 2nd March 2015




The Investing in Need report has found that optimal treatment interventions for eating disorders are up to 50% more cost effective than treatment as usual. The optimal treatment model used in the Investing in Need report is based on the work of the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC) and a Treatment Options report prepared for the Department by Butterfly, and specific international programs analysed by Deloitte Access Economics.

The analysis in the report is based on the 213,208 newly developed eating disorders cases in 2014. Key findings of the Investing in Need report include:

  • The total cost, if Treatment As Usual occurs, for those who develop an eating disorder in 2014, is equivalent to $103.2 billion (Net present value over 10 years). The total cost, if optimal treatment occurs, for those who develop an eating disorder in 2014, is equivalent to $49.9 billion (Net present value over 10 years).
  • Best practice treatment is up to 50% more cost effective than standard practice. There is a 5:1 benefit cost ratio for implementing optimal treatment interventions.
  • Early intervention in illness and in episode significantly reduces the duration and impact of the illness, and increases the rate of sustainable recovery.
  • Rolling out a best practice multidisciplinary approach will take five years at a cost of around $2.8 billion. New cases of eating disorders in 2015 and onward will cost the economy billions of dollars in lost productivity.

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Worried about a friend or someone you care about?

It can be extremely difficult raising the subject of eating disorders with a friend or loved one. To be supportive one needs to learn what to say and what not to say.  


We can help you with knowing when to talk to your friend and what to say. ›

Concerned parents & carers

Communicating your concern with your child about eating and dieting behaviour can be extremely difficult. Butterfly offers a range of services that can provide you with skills and information related to communicating with your child.  


We can help you with recognising issues and what to do. ›

Teachers & Professionals Working with Young People

Teachers and those working with young people are often the first to become aware of dis-ordered eating behaviours.  Butterfly Education provides early intervention and prevention skills for professionals working with young people. 

We have a range of advice & resources ›