During this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week, AMH EveryBODY looks at how these disorders can affect anyone – as they have no look, shape or size . . .
Between 1.25 and 3.4 million people in the UK are living with an eating disorder right now, with recent NHS research highlighting that 6.4% of adults display signs of an eating disorder. Approximately 25% of those presenting with an eating disorder in the UK are males (priorygroup.com, 2023).
Eating disorders are serious and complex mental disorders influenced by a facet of factors, involving disordered eating behaviour, such as reduced food intake or overeating then purging through exercise, laxatives or through the use of an emetic, or a combination of these behaviours. (beateatingdisorders.com).
Importantly eating disorders are not all about food itself, but about feelings. How a person interacts with food may make them feel more able to cope, or more in control.
Though the exact cause of eating disorders is unknown, it is generally believed that a combination of biological, psychological and social factors contribute to the development of these illnesses. They are a coping mechanism for difficulties in that individual’s life, and are much more about feelings at the core, than they are about just food or weight.
Eating disorders have no look, shape or size. They can affect anyone, at any age, gender, race, ethnic background, from all walks of life. Eating disorders are as individual as the people they affect. According to Eating Disorders NI, although traditionally assumed as a disorder affecting teenage girls, it can impact anyone and not everyone will have the same signs, symptoms or experiences.
Department of Health NI estimated figures reveal that up to 20000 individuals will be living with an eating disorder at any one time in Northern Ireland and with an annual spend of £2 million dedicated to specialist eating disorder services since 2008, excluding inpatient and treatment costs outside Northern Ireland, it is evident how much this affects our local population and economy (health-ni.gov.uk).
Deborah McCready who works with AMH EveryBODY managing services for clients living with eating disorders said,
“Behind every statistic, every diagnosis is a person who feels. You deserve to be heard, you deserve to be valued. EveryBODY deserves support. Continuing, “If I could offer anyone reading this post during this Eating Disorder Awareness Week, who may be struggling in silence with their eating disorder, I would like to reassure them that eating disorders have no look, shape or size. I also want to remind you that you are so much more than your eating disorder. You are more than numbers, shape or size. You bring value to this world simply by being you. Eating disorders thrive in isolation so recovery begins with support.
If you are struggling today please know that your voice matters, you deserve to be heard. It is never too soon, or too late to ask for help. EveryBODY can be affected by eating disorders, so everyBODY deserves support.”
Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) runs from 27 February – 5 March 2023.
This week we will share client stories – relatable testimonials and anecdotes, self-care tips and links to our video and useful websites where you will find more information and help. Remember, you are not alone and that you are enough.
NHS advice to help someone living with an eating disorder:
You’re already doing a great job by finding out more about eating disorders and how to try to support them – it shows you care and helps you understand how they might be feeling.
Getting professional help from a doctor, practice nurse, or a school or college nurse will give your friend or relative the best chance of getting better. But this can be one of the most difficult steps for someone living with an eating disorder, so try to encourage them to seek help or offer to go along with them.
You can support them in other ways, too:
(click on image below).