Every 62 minutes, someone dies as a result of an eating disorder. *
In the UK alone, around 1.25 million people are affected by an eating disorder, according to an estimation by the UK eating disorders charity Beat.
However, a lot of confusion and misconceptions exist around eating disorders, which can lead to them often being detected late. That’s a shame, because the earlier the disorder is discovered, the greater the chances of recovery. That’s why the charity Beat initiated Eating Disorders Awareness Week several years ago, in order to help raise awareness. 2020's Eating Disorder Awareness Week takes place from 2nd-8th March, and has a focus on the family and carers of those with an eating disorder, and the impact it can have on their lives.
*Source: Eating Disorders Coalition
What is an eating disorder?
An eating disorder is a mental health condition which involves distorted eating patterns, an unhealthy attitude towards food and an obsession with your weight and body shape. For people affected by the disorder, food becomes an obsession that can start to dominate their life. An eating disorder can occur in various forms: some people will eat very little or nothing at all, while others will binge on food. It can also be a combination of both. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating disorder (BED) and other specified feeding or eating disorder (OFSED). In addition, there are other eating problems varying in symptoms between these.
An eating disorder involves distorted eating patterns, an unhealthy attitude towards food and an obsession with weight and body shape
Prejudice and misconceptions about eating disorders
It may seem like eating disorders affect things that can be visibly seen: food and weight. But, it's a complex mental illness that can affect so many aspects of someone's life. Many people may have heard of anorexia or bulimia, but aren't really aware of what an eating disorder is or how people are affected by it. This is why we hear so many myths and misconceptions about it. For instance, the idea that you can detect if someone has an eating disorder based solely on their appearance.
Read more about misconceptions, myths and prejudices of eating disorders.
Lots of studies are being conducted to research these disorders. For instance, clinical psychologist Dr. Ina Beitner researches the prevention of eating disorders at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany. Minddistrict have previously interviewed her about her research, which you can read here.
Creating attention and awareness about eating disorders this week by supporting Beat's Eating Disorders Awareness Week is so important. However, attention all year long is needed to gain even more knowledge, help to break stigma and to support people affected by it. Because an eating disorder is not a choice, and working towards earlier diagnosis is essential. At Minddistrict, we're in support of Eating Disorders Awareness Week. What about you?
Find out more about the statistics on eating disorders.