The term eating disorders refers to a collection of serious psychological conditions affecting our behaviour and attitudes around food.
Statistics from the NHS information centre (2004) estimates that around 1.6 million people in the UK are suffering from some form of disordered eating. While not directly associated with eating disorders, other recent surveys has shown body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem is at an all-time high in the UK population, particularly in young people, which could help fuel an existing predisposition to an eating disorder.
The most common age of onset of eating disorders tend to be in a sufferers teenage years, although people of all ages can develop and struggle with problems around an unhealthy relationship with food, Binge Eating Disorder is particularly associated with a later age of onset, with many people finding it an issue during mid-life. Sufferers already diet obsessively or have grown up around a culture of restrictive eating and constant dieting. They participate in a sport or hold a career which has particular ties to a certain body build, be it thin or muscular. Societal pressures to achieve ideals, growing pressure on young people to aspire to physical and general ideals. Although these risk factors are commonly reported, it is important to remember that eating disorders are complex issues, often with the behaviours being used to deal with difficult thoughts, feelings or emotions that they cannot otherwise express. These myths and misconceptions are not helped by the media, who frequently report inaccurately on the topic, making sufferers appear self centred, vain and obsessed with the way they look. Treatment and support is available to sufferers of all eating disorders and despite what is often reported, sufferers can go on to make a full recovery, we always suggest seeing your GP if you are showing any signs or symptoms of an eating disorder.

With thanks to Nick Watts from Men Get eating disorders too for helping us put together our eating disorders section of this site. Lovato admits to self-harming, bulimia and opens up about her diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. Other studies have shown that around 2-4 in 10 sufferers of eating disorders will be male, however due to the poor quality of research and data available this number is thought to be inaccurate. It is often found in practice that there are a variety of issues behind a sufferers relationship with food and commonly include emotional difficulties as a result of bullying, family difficulties or traumatic life events. They often completely overlook the very fact that they are psychological conditions, instead concentrating on the physical attributes of the disorders. There are also networks of self-help groups available throughout the country and various self-help books, support organisations and resources available to those concerned about themselves, a friend or relative.
In 2010 there were several information releases which showed worrying rises in the number of men and children being treated by the NHS for eating disorders proving the issue is bigger than once thought, warranting more research on the subject outside of the normal parameters of studies into teenage girls. Sufferers of eating disorders will also commonly suffer from other mental health issues including depression, self-harming behaviours, social anxiety and a severe disturbance in body image.

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