The Difficult Subject: Eating Disorders

This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week, established by BEAT, the leading charity and organisation for eating disorder awareness globally. For me, this is a very important week as I can voice my thoughts on the topic more and share my own story. It is also very scary.

Right now, BEAT estimates around 1.25 million people are suffering with an eating disorder in the UK. The US National Association of Anorexa Nervosa and Associated Disorders approximate that 30 million Americans live with an Eating Disorder. These figures are astonishing. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or social background, these illnesses can affect anyone – something which is heartbreaking to know. An eating disorder is personal and everyone who suffers from one will have different symptoms – no single person is the same.

A fact which often goes overlooked is that eating disorders aren’t only affecting those who are “underweight” – you do not have to be underweight to have an eating disorder. This is something which GPs often get wrong, and send people away who they redeem as a healthy weight with a healthy BMI. Eating disorders are mental illnesses, not physical ones. They just affect you physically, but this is only one consequence out of the dozens of mental issues following on from an eating disorder.

What types of Eating Disorders are there?

The two most diagonised eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia. But these are not the only ones. Others include AFRID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), Orthorexia, Binge Eating Disorder (often known as BED), OSFED (Other Specified Feed or Eating Disorder), Pica and Rumination Disorder. Again, people suffering with an eating disorder often display symptoms that cross between different types of EDs, thus strengthening my point that everyone suffers in a different way with different diagnoses and symptoms.

What causes Eating Disorders?

There is still uncertainty around this issue and this is a title which I will talk more about this week. It is vital to remember that there is no single cause to an eating disorder. The way I see it, is that society has a huge impact on the prevalence of the increase of eating disorders in the UK and other countries nowadays, but again, this is something I will elaborate more on in the days to come.

Some more statistics to keep in mind

  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness (van Hoeken, 2012) – according to Eating Disorders Coalition 2016, about one person dies every hour as a direct result of an eating disorder
  • Around 25% of those affected by an eating disorder are male – a fact which is also often overlooked, as people tend to relate anorexia with females
  • The average age of onset for anorexia is 16-17 years old

What Will I Focus On This Week:

This topic is of course very dear to me. I will use this week to raise awareness around an issue that needs to be talked about more and thus try and prevent at least one more case from arising. Every little helps.

Here are the six main topics I want to cover:

  1. My story, funding and raising awareness
  2. The impact of lockdown
  3. Social media and eating disorders
  4. What you can do to help / understanding eating disorders and how to spot them amongst your friends
  5. Recovery – it doesn’t just go away overnight
  6. An emphasis on the youth and today’s society



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