Preliminary research conducted in 1995 in Tasmania examined the perceptions, knowledge and beliefs held by health workers about eating disorders, specifically anorexia and bulimia. The study used a combination of focus groups and individual interviews with school health nurses, adolescent health workers, dietitians and students of both nursing and dietetics. The study found that professional and lay knowledges around this issue are not categorically distinct. Rather, health workers bring to their professional roles, social and personal knowledges that construct and shape their interpretations of anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Initial findings indicated that these health workers commonly held contradictory, often negative, ideas with strongly moralistic judgements about people with eating disorders. It is argued that such views might constrain their ability to respond effectively in a preventive context.