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Tuesday, 19 November, 2002, 12:32 GMT
'Eating disorder epidemic' at top school
Eating
Jessica Sidgwick wrote about eating disorders in Tatler
A former pupil at a top private school has claimed many girls there develop eating disorders because of the pressure they are being put under.

Jessica Sidgwick said Cheltenham Ladies' College was in the grip of an "epidemic of starvation".

She also accused the school, where fees can top 20,000 a year, of "putting up a facade to give the impression everything was under control" to protect its reputation.

The school rejected the former pupil's claims in Tatler magazine.


We believe that we have a great deal of understanding and experience

Vicky Tuck

Ms Sidgwick wrote: "Mention Cheltenham and people think upper end of the league table, sporty, career-driven girls.

"But I left branded with the memory of an epidemic of starvation."

Girls would make themselves vomit up the small quantities of food they ate in order to stay super-slim, she said.

"It was one of the dirty secrets of the restrained institution in which we lived," she said.

'Obsessive competition'

"We were highly-strung, determined girls, often influenced by ambitious parents, who wanted it all."

Ms Sidgwick, now reportedly a student at Newcastle University, said girls were drawn into "an abyss of obsessive competition".

But college principal Vicky Tuck said in a statement: "All schools, co-educational and single sex, boarding and day, independent and maintained are familiar with eating disorders.

"We believe that we have a great deal of understanding and experience and are able to support a girl and her parents very effectively.

"The key to success in dealing with a problem lies in the degree to which parents accept that there is a problem and work with us."


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07 Oct 01 | Health
20 Dec 00 | Medical notes
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