Who gets an eating disorder?

Not just young white underweight women are affected by these serious mental health conditions

Who gets an eating disorder?

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses affecting people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds. People with eating disorders use disordered eating behaviour as a way to cope with difficult situations or feelings.

According to the 2019 Health Survey, 16 per cent of adults in the UK screen positively for eating disorders, and four per cent are severely affected. The highest increase since 2007 is among middle aged men. Eating disorders are not always related to food, it is more about how a person feels about themselves.

The stigma around eating disorders means many men may be reluctant to seek help and go undiagnosed.

Dr Agnes Ayton, clinical lead and consultant psychiatrist for the HOPE Eating Disorder Provider Collaborative, led by Oxford Health  said: “It’s important to raise awareness that eating disorders are common and don’t just affect young white underweight women. In fact, eating disorders are most common among people who are overweight or obese.

“The good news is that you can get treatment for an eating disorder, and full recovery is possible. More people are now seeking help – because they are recognised as having eating disorders. If you’re at all worried about your relationship with food please reach out for help.”

Anyone who is worried that they or someone close to them could be experiencing an eating disorder and take a look here to find out how you can start to get help.

Helpful information and resources are also available at eating disorder charity Beat.

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Published: 3 March 2022