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Increasing numbers of older people are suffering from eating disorders

The Bodywhys group has reported a 9% increase in helpline calls and a 19% increase in email contact from those aged 36-55.

INCREASING NUMBERS OF people in their 30s, 40s and 50s are suffering from eating disorders, according to a new report.

The latest annual Bodywhys report shows a 19% increase in email contact – and a 9% increase in helpline calls – from those aged 36-55.

Over a fifth (22%) of all callers to the eating disorder support group in 2015 were aged between 36 and 55. The previous year the percentage was 13%.

A quarter of all email contact in 2015 were from people aged 36 to 55, compared to just 6% in 2014, while a similar number (29%) of all email contact was from older teenagers aged 15 to 18.

Bodywhys services manager Harriet Parsons said:

In recent years, we have seen a change in the age profile of those who access our support services.

“This has continued in 2015 with a rise in contacts from people aged 36-55. This is further evidence that eating disorders are not confined to teenagers.”

Over one in every 10 callers (12%) were aged over 56, compared to 4% the previous year. Parsons added:

The figures from our annual report reflect that eating disorders continue to affect a broad range of people and that they require a number of support resources.

She added that it’s not too late for anyone with an eating disorder to seek support and make a full recovery, adding:

An eating disorder is not something a person ‘chooses’ to do. It is a health crisis.


On email support, anorexia was the most common complaint with 60% of contacts, followed by binge-eating (11%) and bulimia (10%). 

On the helpline, anorexia was by a long way the most common form of eating disorder (48% of callers), compared to bulimia (16%), binge eating (23%) and 3% for other specified feeding or eating disorders.

Across all services, approximately 11.5% of contact to the support group related to binge-eating disorders.

An estimated 200,000 people in Ireland are affected by eating disorders. More information can be found here.

The majority of girls and young women admitted to psychiatric units and hospitals in Ireland are treated for eating disorders.

You can contact Bodywhys on 1890 200 444 or via

Read: Girls make up vast majority of young people seeking psychiatric help for eating disorders

Read: Homeless single mum who secured a place in Trinity has been refused Back To Education Allowance

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