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The destructive truth about Eating Disorder services


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With his statement earlier this week, Andrew Radford, chief executive of eating disorder charity B-eat, made a long overdue acknowledgment of a major failing in the healthcare system.

In his bold public statement on BBC Breakfast he stated, “BMI ‘barriers’ must be urgently removed from all inpatient and outpatient services and replaced with access to treatment based on a comprehensive assessment of a person’s physical and mental health.

It is a common misconception that eating disorder’s such as Anorexia Nervosa are a direct impact of extreme dieting or over-exercising which subsequently leads to a dangerously low BMI, anxiety and distorted body image.

But the reality is in fact the opposite.

Anorexia, a diagnosis categorising those with a BMI of 17 and below, is not primarily a physical condition but a mental one. In other words, an individual suffering with the crippling mental symptoms which come with an eating disorder may not be of an abnormal weight and could even appear to be overweight.

However, as it stands within the healthcare system today, it is only those sufferers with a BMI of 17 and below who are being offered treatment for their condition, while others are sent away on the premise that they are just not thin enough to be granted medical treatment or even psychological therapy.

Not only does this stringent attitude toward diagnosis actively encourage anorexic behaviours, but it also completely disregards those suffering from other types of eating disorder such as Orthorexia, EDNOS or Bulimia, all of which have the potential to inflict life threatening complications.

Encouraging the understanding that “Eating disorders are serious, complex mental illnesses, and assessment cannot be based on physical signs alone” is key to B-eat’s new push to bring a discussion and awareness of eating disorders into the public eye.

With an estimated 725,000 people suffering in the UK alone, this is a struggle of which can be pushed aside no longer.

To help support B-eat in their campaign for more widespread treatment for eating disorders, visit

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