20th to 26th February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
The National Eating Disorders Association has made the theme of this year’s NEDA week “Everybody Knows Somebody” because awareness of this issue is growing. The aim of the week is to “Ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment.”
A recent survey by B-eat, a national UK based charity that provides information, help and support to people affected by eating disorders, found that 92% of children felt they couldn’t tell anyone about their eating related issues. They are launching a campaign called ‘Break the Silence and Beat Eating Disorders’.
Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder affect at least 1.1 million people in the UK according to Eating Disorders Statistics (UK), with young people in the age group 14-25 being most at risk of developing this type of illness. Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for that may suggest someone has, or is on the verge of developing an eating disorder.
· Obsession with body weight and image
· Picking at food
· Only eating certain types of food
· Using the bathroom immediately after eating
· Making excuses not to eat at meal times
· Fluctuations in weight (weight loss or weight gain)
· Mood swings
· Excessive use of exercise
Conventional medical treatment for eating disorders is usually centred on changing the person’s behaviour with regards to food, without trying to understand what’s going on in their head. But everyone with an eating disorder has come to it by a different and personal route. Therefore there is not a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to helping them overcome it. It may take a multi-disciplinary approach that includes nutritionists, trainers and complementary medicine.
Eating disorders are responsible for more loss of life than any other type of psychological illness and can have a huge impact on long term health with osteoporosis and fertility problems being common place.
If you are worried that you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder, break the silence and talk to someone you can trust.