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Completed SWEDA research projects

Completed SWEDA research projects

25% of those with an eating disorder identify as male, whilst many more struggle with feelings about the way they look or with anxiety about food and exercise. There is little reliable data to tell us much about this second group. There has been an increase in the number of men and boys presenting with eating disorders and body image concerns at SWEDA but we know that there are many more out there who have not reached out for help or do not know where to turn. We were interested to find out more about how men and boys feel about their appearance and what they think about diet and exercise, in the hope that we can begin to better understand how to help men and boys who may be at risk of developing an eating problem. We hope our results can help us develop services and information for this underrepresented and undeserved group. 

This survey is largely about how men and boys view themselves and their bodies and what they think about exercise.

As one of the very few specialist eating disorder charities in the UK, SWEDA recognises that body image is ultimately linked with eating disorders in a significant majority of cases. Further, we recognise that a negative body image can lead to poor mental health, especially in young people.

SWEDA actively reaches out to young people in Somerset to raise awareness of eating disorders and body image issues. Our survey was completed by 600+ students in the county of Somerset between the ages of 14-20 at freshers' fairs and information evenings with youth organisations. The responses were anonymous but collected data about age, gender, sexuality and location.

We asked over 500 people to complete a short survey about their experiences during lockdown. Responses showed that the pandemic had made having an eating disorder even more challenging, with many respondents facing additional difficulties with loneliness, anxiety and frustration. 

We know that neurodivergence is overrepresented in people who have eating disorders. SWEDA have spent time in the last year focusing on the connection between eating disorders and neurodiversity to ensure that SWEDA is a friendly place for people who are neurodivergent. We wanted to ask people about some of the behaviours, thoughts, and feelings around food and eating that neurodivergent people sometimes report to see how common they were amongst survey participants. It is important to state that this survey is not about eating disorders per se, but about preferences and dislikes relating to food, eating and the associated rituals, behaviours and expectations surrounding meals. 

Find out about the results of our research here.

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