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.
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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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“You can tell if someone is suffering from ED from their appearance.” Only a minority of individuals with Eating Disorders are actually underweight and although the media may perpetuate an image of sufferers being emaciated, this is quite unhelpful. This can lead to people not seeking out help because they don’t believe they are unwell enough, and it means loved ones might not realise there is a problem even though there is other evidence to suggest it. Additionally with BED it is impossible to judge whether the individual is struggling or recovered based on their weight, as fluctuations happen often. “Only wealthy, white teenage girls get eating disorders.” Eating disorders do not discriminate. We know this from our experience in practice, seeing a wide variety of different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, and even all different ages. However, there is a tendency for people struggling with eating disorders to be younger. A majority of people diagnosed with an eating disorder are between the ages of 12 and 26. Those who are diagnosed later in life may have developed an eating disorder when they were younger but did not seek treatment or did not have available treatment. Also contrary to popular belief, approximately 20 to 30% of sufferers are male. “As a parent, I need to find out what I did to cause my child’s eating disorder.” Recent research supports eating disorders having a very biological root, and although parents have shouldered a lot of the blame in the past, it does

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Help Networks

In the UK : Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC) A national eating disorder charity that has a full-time helpline for anyone who is struggling, or caring for someone, with any form of eating disorder. The charity also provides training and education to schools, universities, the workplace, and NHS trusts. Every November they have an action month during which ABC campaigns for better resources available to help understand and combat eating disorders. The action month has been launched at the Houses of Parliament for the last four years. BEAT A national eating disorder charity that offers helpline services most evenings of the week. The charity also provides education and support and continues to raise awareness of eating disorders. Student Minds The UK’s student mental health charity offers support groups within university settings covering a range of mental-health issues, including eating disorders. In the US:  National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) NEDA supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and is the leading non-profit in this area. Their helpline is a useful first stop for anyone worried about an eating disorder. Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness (The Alliance) This agency aims to connect people seeking help for eating disorders with resources and information to assist them in their recovery. They offer workshops and presentations, free support groups for those struggling and for their loved ones, advocacy for eating disorders and mental health legislation, national toll-free phone help-line, and referrals, support and mentoring services. Eating Disorder HOPE This umbrella organisation offers hope, information

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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.