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Health Matters: Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2019

Health Matters: Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2019
25 February 2019

Dr Ian Hulme, GP with Meadowside Medical Centre, Congleton and clinical lead for mental health, NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group

Eating is an important activity in all our lives. It brings people together, forms an integral part of our social life and brings great satisfaction to many.

Consequently, when there’s trouble with someone’s eating, it has a big impact on their wellbeing; this is true for the 1.2 million people currently struggling with an eating disorder in the UK.

That’s why I’m supporting Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2019 (25 February – 3 March) by raising awareness of the issue and promoting the support services available for those with an eating disorder and the people around them.

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that involve disordered eating behaviour. This might mean limiting the amount of food eaten, eating very large quantities of food at once, getting rid of food eaten through unhealthy means or a combination of these behaviours.

There is no one single reason why someone develops an eating disorder. There are many factors including genetic, psychological, environmental, social and biological influences. This means anyone can develop one no matter what their age, gender or background

Some examples of eating disorders include bulimia, binge eating disorder and anorexia.

It’s important to remember that eating disorders are not all about food itself but about feelings. The way the person interacts with food may make them feel more able to cope or may make them feel in control.

It can often be very difficult to identify that a loved one has developed an eating disorder. People with an eating disorder are often secretive and defensive about their eating and their weight, and they may deny being unwell. Warning signs to look out for include:

  • Are they obsessive about food?
  • Are they often tired or struggling to concentrate?
  • Do they disappear to the toilet after meals?
  • Do they have distorted beliefs about their body size?

Have they started exercising excessively?

Beat (eating disorder charity) offers help including support groups, web chat, a child helpline and a helpline on 0808 801 0677 that’s open to anyone over 18 including parents, teachers and other concerned adults.

More information about types of eating disorders, warning signs, treatment methods and how you can get help can be found on the NHS website at http://bit.ly/ED-NHS.