Plans are being drawn up for the South West's first NHS in-patient centre for people with eating disorders.
The new centre in Cornwall will cost more than £1m and could be opened within the next six months.
Almost £2m was spent last year caring for people in Cornwall with eating disorders.
Private clinics cost about £400 a day per patient.
Chris Prestwood, clinical co-ordinator for the county's eating disorder association, said an in-patient unit of about 12 beds was long overdue.
"Any unit would be very much part of the community-based programme," he said.
Family therapy has helped about 80 patients in Cornwall during the past seven months.