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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 08:09 GMT
Eating disorders 'on the increase'
Person eating
Eating regularly is crucial, the association says
An increasing number of people are seeking help for eating disorders, experts have warned.

The Eating Disorders Association (EDA) answered more than 18,000 calls to its helplines last year.

But it says many other people were unable to get through because of the sheer volume of calls.

The EDA estimates that nearly 18% of anorexics calling its adult helpline will die - and many others will develop long-term health problems such as osteoporosis or a loss of fertility.

Serious disorders such as anorexia or bulimia can start with something as apparently innocuous as skipping the odd meal, experts warn.

In an attempt to alert the public to the health damage of eating disorders the EDA has commissioned eye-catching and hard-hitting postcards.

The association hopes the cards will point out that missing meals is never a healthy option.


Research shows us that approximately 18% of all people with anorexia nervosa will die prematurely

Nicky Bryant, EDA chief executive
The EDA is targeting schools, colleges, youth clubs and health centres as to reach the 16 to 25-year-olds it considers to be at the greatest risk of developing an eating disorder.

The postcards have been based on an original design by Julia Clark-Lownes who is recovering from an eating disorder.

Premature deaths

Nicky Bryant, chief executive of the charity, said that unless people with eating disorders sought early help, they could suffer long-term help problems such as osteoporosis and loss of fertility.

"We know that people's lives are at risk because of the lack of recognition of the problem and help available.

"The letters, calls and e-mails we receive from desperate, distressed and often grieving parents, relatives and friends tell their own story.

Postcard
An Eating Disorder Association postcard
"Research shows us that approximately 18% of all people with anorexia nervosa will die prematurely.

"We also know that anorexia and bulimia nervosa and related illnesses affect the lives of almost every one of us, either directly or indirectly," she said.

Recent research by the Eating Disorders Research Unit at the Institute of Psychiatry in London found that eating disorders could be due to the physical or genetic make-up of the brain.

The unit found that the brain could be naturally vulnerable or even pre-disposed to the illness and could be more susceptible to an eating disorder following a physical change in the brain due to an event that happened in child hood.

Dr Sara McCluskey, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital Hayes Grove, said that better understanding would lead to improvements in care.

"A more in-depth understanding of eating disorders will lead to further improvements in the level of care and help that medical professionals can provide to both the patients and their family," she said.

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See also:

20 Dec 00 | Medical notes
Eating disorders
02 Jun 00 | Health
Eating disorders 'hit men harder'
14 Apr 00 | Health
Gene theory on eating disorders
04 Feb 00 | Education
Eating disorders enter the classroom
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