Abstract: This study explores young people's perceptions of eating disorders, the risks and consequences of developing an eating disorder, and the effectiveness of education and prevention programmes. Eating disorder prevention programmes are predominantly school-based, target young women, and are delivered in weekly sessions for a six or eight-week period. There is evidence that programmes can increase short-term knowledge but less evidence for their impact on attitudes and behaviours. Focus groups were undertaken with 96 male and female participants, aged 13-18, drawn from schools and informal youth settings in three local authority areas in Scotland. Participants demonstrated good understanding of eating disorders; insight into the complexity of reasons for developing a disorder (with a belief that celebrity culture and associated thin imagery has the largest influence) and strong empathy for those who experience eating disorders (as opposed to people who are obese). Television and magazines were cited as the main sources of information, with parents and friends identified as key sources of support rather than professionals. Participants indicated a desire to discuss eating disorders and for this to be incorporated into school health education programmes. Key features of school-based programmes indicated by participants include single gender discussion groups and development of critical thinking towards the media. The study supports the need for multi-agency discussion-based education programmes, long-term evaluation of impact, and the enhancement of peer support and parental awareness of issues surrounding eating disorders. It also highlights a number of gaps in research in this field.