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89% increase in middle-aged people seeking help for eating disorders

“Eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. They are not about food nor are they a diet.”

Image: Shutterstock/SpeedKingz

THERE HAS BEEN a marked increase in the number of middle-aged people seeking help for an eating disorder.

Bodywhys, the voluntary national eating disorder organisation, saw an 89% annual increase in the number of people aged 36-55 years contacting its helpline in 2015.

Figures released today also show a 13% increase in calls concerning 15-18 year olds affected by an eating disorder.

Where disclosed, 44% of people who contacted Bodywhys by email and phone have had an eating disorder for over 10 years.

Harriet Parsons of Bodywhys, said: “In recent years, we have seen a change in the age profile of those who access our support services. This includes increased contact from adults who are beyond their 20s. There is a lessening in the myth that eating disorders solely affect teenagers or that they are a ‘teenage problem or phase’”.

Eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. They are not about food nor are they a diet. Individuals who are in their mid-30s and up, and who have been living with an eating disorder for many years, are starting to reach out and look for support in ways they may not have done so in the past.

“As a serious and complex mental health issue, eating disorders can lead to heightened risk in terms of mortality and suicidality. Our message is for anyone who is living with an eating disorder is that they can access support and that their age is not a barrier to being listened to,” Parsons said.

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Some 200,000 people in Ireland are affected by eating disorders. An awareness week is being held from today until 28 February. More information can be found here.

You can contact Bodywhys on 1890 200 444 or via alex@bodywhys.ie.

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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