We need to tackle eating disorders early

I’m backing #DumpTheScales, the campaign run by campaigner and author Hope Virgo, that is demanding the government acts to improve the diagnosis, treatment and support for people affected by an eating disorder.

Thousands of people with eating disorders are being turned away, like what happened to Hope,  because the measure of their ‘thinness’ – Body Mass Index – is not seen as low enough.

Official NICE Guidelines on treating eating disorders are not being implemented properly, not least because there is a lack of understanding and a lack of funding.

The #DumpTheScales initiative comes during Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Eating Disorders charity Beat points out that stereotypes about eating disorders can pose significant barriers to people getting help early.

It found:

  • 39 per cent of adults mistakenly believe eating disorders more commonly affect white people;
  • Six out of ten adults mistakenly believe eating disorders mainly affect young people;
  • 37 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual people say they would not feel confident seeking help about eating disorders from healthcare professionals compared to 24 per cent of straight people;
  • Only 52 per cent of people from minority ethnicities would feel confident asking for help about eating disorders from healthcare professionals – compared to 64 per cent of white British people.

We need to reduce the barriers to people seeking help in the first place and then make sure that the help is readily available.

Early diagnosis is critical in treatment success for eating disorders. By the time ‘obvious’ signs of eating disorders have shown themselves, it is likely that the illness will have become more serious and more difficult to treat.

Early diagnosis and fast access to the right treatments will help prevent people getting more unwell, save the NHS money, prevent hospital admission and save lives.

You can add your name to the #DumpTheScales petition by clicking here.

For more information on eating disorders, please click here.