By Zoe Kramer
March 2 to March 8 marks Eating Disorders Awareness Week in the UK. According to Beat Eating Disorders, 1.25 million people in the UK are currently living with an eating disorder, and the organisation highlights the importance of the role of carers in the recovery of those with such disorders.
According to the Beat website, “Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses and those caring for someone with an eating disorder are too often left without the support and information they need to help their loved one towards recovery.”
Cardiff University Students’ Union’s Student Minds organization organised two events last week in honour of the Eating Disorders Awareness campaign: a Yoga session in collaboration with the Yoga Society was held on March 2 and a self-care event on March 6. The SU also worked to raise money for the UK’s Eating Disorder charity, Beat, throughout the duration of the week.
Speaking about the campaign, James Wareham, VP Welfare of Cardiff University Students’ Union, said: “Student Minds, one of our Student-Led Services, are raising awareness for Eating Disorders Awareness Week. They are hosting a Self-Care event Friday 6th March, handing out resources and also raising money for Beat, the UK’s leading Eating Disorder charity. We believe it is important to raise awareness of eating disorders because this is an issue that can affect our students at any point during their studies – we want students to know where they can get support and how to support others who may be affected.”
According to Priory, eating disorders have the highest mortality rates among psychiatric disorders. Eating disorders are most common in individuals between the ages of 16 and 40. Approximately 10% of those affected by an eating disorder suffer from anorexia nervosa, and 40% suffer from bulimia nervosa. For those who suffer from bulimia nervosa, it is most often onset at 18-19 years of age. Additionally, approximately 25% of those affected by eating disorders are male.
Beat’s statistics also show that the average duration of anorexia is eight years and the average duration of bulimia is five years, although these illnesses can become severe and enduring, especially when untreated. However, 46% of anorexia patients and 45% of bulimia patients make a full recovery. Some data shows that there may be a genetic element to eating disorders, as female relatives of someone who suffers from anorexia were 11.4 times more likely to suffer from anorexia themselves than those who did not have relatives suffering from anorexia.
The SCOFF questionnaire for diagnosing eating disorders goes as follows:
- Do you ever make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
- Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat?
- Have you recently lost more than One stone in a three month period?
- Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?
- Would you say that Food dominates your life?
Students with an eating disorder or students who think they may have an eating disorder can find support by consulting Beat’s online resources or calling their national helpline at 0345 634 1414. Students can also consult The National Centre for Eating Disorders for resources. Finally, Anorexia & Bulimia Care provides support and guidance not only for those struggling with an eating disorder, but also for parents, families and friends.