Information for everyone

Information for everyone

Information that is helpful for everyone affected by eating disorders. 

Although food is a key component in eating disorders, we recognise that eating disorders are not 'all about food'.

However, whether the disorder is Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Compulsive Eating or a mixture, the commonality is that eating disorders are all 'coping mechanisms'. They are expressions of psychological and emotional problems in which people use food, albeit in different ways, in an attempt to cope with and manage their distress. 

Estimates of the prevalence of eating disorders within the United Kingdom vary. The current estimate from the UK's National Eating Disorders Association suggests a figure of 90,000 individuals receiving treatment for either Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa at any given time in the UK. Further estimates put the total number of cases (diagnosed and undiagnosed) of Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa within the United Kingdom to be 1.5 million (EDA 2000).

A study, commissioned by Beat and produced by PwC in February 2015, estimates that more than 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder (this used a more robust methodology than previous studies). Recent statistics from Beat suggest that around 25% of those affected by an eating disorder are male.

The Health and Care Information Centre published figures in February 2014 showed an 8% rise in the number of inpatient hospital admissions in the 12 months previous to October 2013. The Costs of Eating Disorders report found that this is indicative of the trend in increasing prevalence over time: a 34% increase in admissions since 2005-06 - approximately 7% each year.

Before the latest change in diagnostic criteria, it was estimated that of those with eating disorders, 10% were Anorexic, 40% were Bulimic and the rest fall into the EDNOS category, which included Binge Eating Disorder. Many current estimates do not include compulsive/binge eating in their totals as this eating disorder has only recently received recognition; consequently the numbers suffering from eating disorders in the UK are likely to be much higher.

SWEDA estimates that around 5,000 people in the county of Somerset will have a clinical eating disorder with a further 5000 having an eating disorder that has a significant impact on their life and health. This includes women of all ages, the majority being between 14 - 35 years of age. Around 10% of sufferers are male. Eating disorders impact on family and friends of sufferers so the estimated figure for need in Somerset could be in the region of 50,000.

Despite there being a great deal of written material, research papers, personal accounts and several sets of 'Diagnostic Criteria' relating to eating disorders, views on eating disorders vary. Researchers and experts have yet to agree on a definitive model or treatment approach. The field of eating disorders is complex and there exists a variety of views, theories and opinions. It is fair to say that a clear understanding remains elusive and uncertainty still persists in many areas. In light of this, the process of coming to terms with and understanding these conditions can be extremely confusing for people with an eating disorder and those in close contact with them. However, support is available to help people gain an understanding of eating disorders and to get help that can lead to a full recovery. 

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