Beat the UK’s leading charity supporting anyone affected by eating disorders, commissioned research which finds low awareness in recognising early signs linking this with delayed treatment for eating disorders and increased risk of the illness becoming severe and enduring.
Beat has published the results to mark Eating Disorder Awareness Week (26 February to 4 March). According to the survey conducted by YouGov, one third of adults in the sample (n equal to 2000) were unable to name a signs or symptoms of an eating disorder.
- respondents who gave a correct answer, were twice as likely to list weight loss or being thin (62%) as a sign over any other.
(In fact, many people affected by eating disorders will remain at a normal weight, or even gain weight and for those who do lose weight, it is a physical sign which will appear once the mental illness is ingrained.)
- 18% said they ‘did not know’, any signs or symptoms, 14% listed an eating disorder diagnosis like ‘bulimia’ or ‘anorexia’ rather than a sign or symptom and 1% gave an incorrect answer.
- n average, of those who gave a correct answer, people could only list three signs and symptoms out of a potential 68 identified by Beat and 79% were not able to name a psychological symptom, which usually appear first, such as low confidence and self-esteem and a distorted perception of weight or shape.
The results of the survey confirm Beat’s previous research findings, that not knowing how to spot the signs of eating disorders early is one of the main factors that leads to sufferers facing a three-and-a-half-year delay to begin treatment. Beat is calling on the Government and the NHS to extend their focus on early intervention, supporting measures to increase awareness of the early signs and symptoms of eating disorders. (BEAT)
Full details are available from BEAT
In the media: The Independent Third of adults don’t know any eating disorder signs or symptoms, survey finds