Eating Disorders

There are many myths and complexities around eating disorders, we want to highlight the realness and devasting impact these disorders can have on individuals and also provide some information and support to those who need it.  

Eating disorders can be defined as “extreme shape and weight control behaviour” or “a complex mental health condition, that affects how we think, feel and act.” They present differently in everyone, coming in all shapes and sizes and affecting people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds.  

You can find out more about the types of eating disorders here. There is no single reason why someone develops an eating disorder but there are factors that can predispose someone to developing them such as someone’s genetics, personality, environment, culture, habits and experiences.  

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among all mental illnesses. It is estimated up to 3.4 million people in the UK are affected by one and these numbers are only increasing. Hospitals have seen an 84% increase in hospital admissions due to eating disorders between 2016-2021.  

There is lots of support available, whether that’s for you or for someone you may know struggling with an eating disorder.  

The University of Exeter Eating Difficulties Peer Support Group

University Wellbeing Services on Eating Disorders

BEAT Eating Disorders – Their website has loads of easy-to-read information and support for you and also how you can support someone you believe is suffering with an eating disorder.

Myth busting:  

  • Not just woman: 25% of people with eating disorders identify as male and this is just what we know of – we know men are less likely to reach out for mental disorders so realistically this number is higher. The number of men being admitted to hospital for an eating disorder doubled between 2016-2021. Eating disorders can affect anyone.  
  • Not a choice – eating disorders are classed as a mental illness and can often co-exist with other mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression.  
  • Not all underweight – eating disorders come in many forms, many shapes and many sizes – only 6% of those with an eating disorder are underweight and only 10% of those with an eating disorder suffer with anorexia nervosa.  
  • Not just about food and weight – the person might be extremely rigid in their behaviour and extremely self-critical of themselves.