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Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Eating Disorder Service

Good advice

Typical Myths about Eating Disorders

There are a lot of myths about eating disorders. Here we dispel some of the common myths.

Often people think that only girls are affected by eating disorders; however this is not the case. It is estimated that around 10 to 20 percent of people experiencing eating disorders are male.

Being a healthy weight for your age, height and gender is an important part of recovery, but it is also important to feel better about yourself and your body, to be happy with your relationships and not to worry about food and eating.

Once an eating disorder is established, it can become entrenched and it can be difficult to get out of it on your own. This is a common myth associated with eating disorders, but we know this is not true. An eating disorder is a serious mental illness, and it is unlikely to resolve without specialist treatment and support.

Eating disorders can be very distressing for the person with the disorder and there are many factors that contribute to the development of an eating disorder including biological, social, psychological and interpersonal factors. People don’t choose to have an eating disorder much like people don’t choose to have physical illnesses.

While it is true that young people are exposed to images of thin glamourous celebrities and many articles on diet and fitness, this fact tells us little about how these messages are affecting young people and the incidence of eating disorders. The majority of these young people do not develop an eating disorder. There are many different factors that contribute to the development of an eating disorder which include our biology and social, psychological and interpersonal factors. There is no one direct cause of eating disorders.

Often people think that you have to be underweight to have an eating disorder; however not all eating disorders are determined by the size or weight of an individual. Not everyone with an eating disorder will be underweight; many individuals may be a normal weight or overweight. It is also true that not everyone who is underweight has an eating disorder. Therefore it is not possible to tell just by looking at someone whether or not they have an eating disorder.

There is no evidence to suggest that families cause eating disorders. What we do know is that family support as part of treatment gives young people the best chance of recovery.

You have to tell your parents everything and have them in all your appointments at CAMHS.

Whilst eating disorders appear to be centred around food, this is best understood as a way of managing difficulties or distress that are often unrelated to food.

As an eating disorder service we see young people from a full range of educational backgrounds. Eating disorders are not limited to single sex or grammar schools.

This is a common myth, you can eat a range of food and display a regular pattern of eating and still have an eating disorder. Eating disorders present in different ways and its important as part of any assessment that we understand these individual differences.

Learn more about eating disorders

Last updated: 21 May, 2019