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Study: Stereotyping Eating Disorders Puts Others At Risk Of Going Untreated

New research challenges the notion that only certain groups are affected by eating disorders
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The myth that only posh skinny white girls develop eating disorders is to blame for others going untreated, according to a new study. Eating disorder experts say that everyone regardless of race, gender or age can be affected by eating disorders and the presented stereotypes are harmful to many other sufferers. They are urging clinicians to regard all eating disorders as serious even if they do not involve weight loss, such as purging.


Their book Eating Disorders: The Basics is aimed at schools, healthcare professionals and families. The guide details common risk factors, different types of eating disorders, the latest treatments, and offers advice to families on how to support loved ones to recovery.


“Eating disorders are often thought to affect skinny, white, affluent girls. However, they lack any true discrimination in who they affect. Other groups such as men, racial minorities, transgender individuals, and those from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds can remain in our communities struggling with their eating disorder, left untreated for years,” said Author Dr. Elizabeth McNaught, Medical Director at Family Mental Wealth in Bath.


“It’s also essential that we recognize that all eating disorders are serious, and all eating disorders deserve treatment and support. They do not have to be lifelong or fatal illnesses, but often can be due to a lack of provision and poor recognition of symptoms in people who are not underweight,” she added. 


The book covers a range of different eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and other conditions. The guide also features real-life accounts from individuals who have developed eating disorders and their letters of hope to support others still struggling. Many of these stories are from patients who were refused help because they were considered unwell enough for treatment.


One example is Cara Lisette who suffers from a purging disorder and feels as though it was not taken seriously despite the danger associated with it. “Most people with purging disorder will not become underweight, but that doesn’t mean they are at a healthy weight for their body, and it doesn’t mean they aren’t causing harm to themselves. Purging can be fatal,” said Cara Lisette.


Christina Taylor was also told that she was too healthy for care, despite drinking to excess and making herself sick up to 10 times a day. “This was one of the most invalidating experiences of my entire life. I genuinely felt there was no point going on,” said Taylor.


Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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