Eating disorders affect seven girls in every 1,000, and one boy in every 1,000. It usually begins to be a problem in teenage years, but can happen at any time. Two common disorders are anorexia nervosa (eating very little) and bulimia nervosa (binge eating then being sick).
- Social pressure, particularly caused by TV and magazine images of thin celebrities.
- Losing weight can make you feel good and in control.
- Puberty - anorexia reverses some of the physical changes of becoming an adult.
- Traumatic events - bereavement, abuse, bullying or long term illness can sometimes trigger eating disorders.
- Family problems - saying "no" to food may be the only way you can express your feelings.
- Depression and low self-esteem - binges may start off as a way of coping with unhappiness.
- Genes - it can run in families.
If you have a problem with food, it is serious and may damage your health so you need to get help. You could try talking to your parents or a family member. Seeing a GP can be a good start. It is important to have the correct diagnosis. Your doctor can refer you to specialist professionals like psychiatrists, psychologists, dieticians, nutritionists, and counsellors - it may not be possible to access this support without seeing a doctor. If seeing a doctor is difficult perhaps you could talk to the practice nurse or someone at school or college that you trust
B-eat is an organisation which helps people tackle eating disorders and they have a website for young people at: www.b-eat.co.uk