Word on Health

Word On Eating Disorders

Our grateful thanks to Gemma Oaten from the eating disorder service SEED for her contribution to our on-air report which you can hear again via the audio player located further down this page - or via our podcast which you can hear via our 'In Profile' page. To find out more about SEED click here.

Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses. It's a classic misconception that eating disorders only affect teenage girls! Boys, girls, men and women from all types of background and ethnic groups suffer from eating disorders.

Conditions as complex as eating disorders mean that there’s no single cause and people might not have all symptoms for any one eating disorder.

Many people are diagnosed with “other specified feeding or eating disorder” (OSFED), which means that their symptoms don’t exactly match what doctors check for to diagnose binge eating disorder, anorexia, or bulimia, but doesn’t mean that it’s not still very serious.

It’s also possible for someone’s symptoms, and therefore their diagnosis, to change over time. For example, someone could have anorexia, but their symptoms could later change to fit with a diagnosis of bulimia.

The person may feel that they have a mixture of anorexia and bulimia, or alternate between them. Some people also find they are affected by an urge to harm themselves or abuse alcohol or drugs.

Eating disorders do not include food allergies, selective eating issues or disorders of the digestive system.  However, a G.P should be the first point of call for these issues as well as for eating disorders.

Even if you don't have these symptoms if you are worried and upset by something, anything, it is important you find someone to talk to. Please don't bottle it all up. 

Eating disorders ARE treatable It’s usually very difficult for people with eating disorders to get better on their own, so it’s important that you or the person you know finds professional help and support as soon as possible. The sooner someone is treated for an eating disorder, the better their chance of making a full recovery.

Gaining access to treatment isn’t always as straightforward as anyone would like it to be - alongside SEED, who we spoke to on-air - there's Beat  that also provides invaluable help and support.


Listen to this weeks radio report

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.