Objective To investigate primary care utilization between patients with an eating disorder (ED) and other patient groups, and between the ED subgroups anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN). Method The present study was an observational casecontrol study. In total, 167 patients with ED were matched with two control groups (with and without mental disorders). General practitioners (GPs) kept electronic records and provided all patient contacts, prescriptions and referrals with a diagnostic code. Results Although patients with BN have the highest number of face-to-face contacts compared with all other groups, these patients less often seek help for eating problems compared with patients with AN, even when the ED diagnosis is known to the GP. Overall, patients with mental disorders showed a comparable rate of GP care, which was elevated compared with patients without mental disorders. Discussion Patients with BN might need more active encouragement by the GP to talk about their eating problems because there are indications that point at an unmet need for GP care. Copyright (C) 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.