Between 1.25 and 3.4 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder.
About 40% of people referred to eating disorder clinics are classified ‘Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified’ with symptoms that don’t fit neatly into either the anorexia or bulimia classifications.
The earlier that eating disorder treatment is sought, the better the sufferer’s chance of recovery.
Most eating disorders develop during adolescence, although there are cases of eating disorders developing in children as young as 6 and in adults in their 70's.
31% of eating disorder prevalence in elite female athletes.
Only around one in ten young people feel comfortable seeking advice from teachers, parents, GPs or the school/health systems in general, whereas around half feel these groups are where they should be able to turn.


Orthorexia refers to an unhealthy obsession with eating “pure” food. Food considered “pure” or “impure” can vary from person to person. This doesn’t mean that anyone who subscribes to a healthy eating plan or diet is suffering from orthorexia. As with other eating disorders, the eating behaviour involved – “healthy” or “clean” eating in this case – is used to cope with negative thoughts and feelings, or to feel in control. Someone using food in this way might feel extremely anxious or guilty if they eat food they feel is unhealthy.

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Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a severe eating disorder that is characterised by a fixation with being thin, an irrational fear of gaining weight and a distorted body image. It can happen to people of any age, any gender, and any background. People with anorexia are driven to keeping their weight as low as possible, and might do this by restricting food, exercising excessively or purging.

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Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that causes sufferers to experience an overwhelming need to restrict their food intake. This results in periods of excessive eating (known as ‘binge eating’), with sufferers often eating up to three or four times the usual amount of food, after which they make themselves vomit, exercise excessively or take laxatives (known as ‘purging’) in order to rid their body of the calories that they have consumed. These binge-purge cycles are often triggered by hunger, stress or emotional anxiety, and can mean that there is no significant change in a person’s weight, as the cycles can balance this out.

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Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge eating disorder, also known as ‘compulsive eating disorder’, is a fairly common condition, but has only recently been recognised as an eating disorder. BED is characterised by compulsive overeating, whereby individuals regularly eat a large amount of food in one sitting, regardless of whether or not they are hungry. However, unlike other eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, BED sufferers do not engage in purging behaviours and therefore, the constant overeating that is associated with BED is likely to result in obesity and other associated complications.

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These UK eating disorder statistics are derived from data published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Beat, and Anorexia and Bulimia Care.