Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour. There is a commonly held view that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice. Eating disorders are actually serious and often fatal illnesses that cause severe disturbances to a person’s eating behaviours.
A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health. Lots of people think that if you have an eating problem you will be over or underweight, and that being a certain weight is always associated with a specific eating problem. This is a myth. Anyone, regardless of age, gender or weight, can be affected by eating problems.
Eating disorders are often blamed on the social pressure to be thin, as young people in particular feel they should look a certain way. However, the causes are usually more complex. An eating disorder may be associated with biological, genetic or environmental factors combined with a particular event that triggers the disorder. There may also be other factors that maintain the illness.
It can often be very difficult to identify that a loved one or friend has developed an eating disorder. For signs to look out for please see the NHS website .
For treatment or help with an eating disorder, please contact your GP.
Support for safeguarding adults is provided by Focus .