The Reformation of Eating Disorder Services – Press Release

“It’s 2021, no one should be dying from an eating disorder”

Experts join forces to fight for the reformation of eating disorder services, because no one should be dying from an eating disorder in 2021.

  • Hope Virgo, founder of #DumptheScales forms the world’s first coalition of eating disorder services across the UK to fight government legislation.
  • Eating disorders are currently at their highest globally following COVID-19 yet current legislation shows no action to reduce this, if anything policies currently in place are only set to make this worse including the latest ‘calories on menus’ action. 
  • Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder (BED) and other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) are responsible for more loss of life than any other mental health condition, and unfortunately are becoming increasingly more common (1).
  • It is estimated that over 700,000 people in the UK have an eating disorder, with an already overstretched service at breaking point (2).
  • The recent 2019 Health Survey found that 16% of adults aged 16 and over (19% of women and 13% of men) screened positive for a possible eating disorder. 
  • This is a 266% increase in the last 12 years.  
  • Hospital admissions have seen a fourfold increase in demand, and to our knowledge, there has been no investment into specialist eating disorder inpatient services during this time. 
  • Approximately 70% of people needing hospitalisation are adults, and there has been a significant increase in ethnic minorities and males with eating disorders.

What is Hearts, Minds and Genes?

The ‘Hearts, Minds and Genes’ coalition’s mission is to work towards a complete reformation of services to support patients suffering. Their goal is to achieve a world where eating disorders are understood and supported across medical, physical and mental care. 

Hearts, Minds and Genes is leading the way in bringing together carers, lived experience, and individuals working in the fields of genetics, research, and treatment. It is made up of Dr Agnes Ayton, Dr Ashish Kumar, Renee McGregor, Helen Missen, Prof Gerome Breen, Suzanne Baker and Simon Brown.  

The coalition recently presented its recommendations and plans for reform to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). 

“As a group we felt frustrated by the lack of urgency to tackle these issues and believe that together we are more likely to make that impact on others. Eating disorders are preventable and treatable, and with early intervention, the right treatment, funding, pathways, education and support for the whole family they can and will be prevented.”   

Hope Virgo, founder of Hearts, Minds and Genes

Eating disorders are mental illnesses with physical consequences. Present treatment in the UK focuses too much on individuals hitting criteria and being able to be classified when in reality a more holistic approach is required. 

Renee McGregor, Leading Sports Dietician and founder of the EN:SPIRE clinic

“More research will be central to understanding these life-threatening disorders and to help inform evidence based services. Now is the time for sensible public policy and more direct support for eating disorder services and research. This is what our coalition will strive to achieve”

Gerome Breen, coalition member and Professor of Psychiatric Genetics at King’s College London

Eating Disorders are both psychological and physical in presentation and should be treated with early and ongoing specialised evidence based treatment. We are committed to a coalition-building model of advocacy as well as working collaboratively to ensure better outcomes for all those affected by eating disorders – nobody should be dying of an eating disorder in 2021, neither should anybody have to settle for living with an eating disorder. 

Helen Missen and Suzanne Baker of F.E.A.S.T.