It's important that we promote a healthy eating diet

It's important that we promote a healthy eating diet

An eating disorder charity has called on MPs to keep up the pressure on making changes to mental health budgets and treatments, to ensure that those suffering from anorexia and bulimia get the help they need.

The call comes after the first ever debate on the subject of eating disorders took place in Westminster, during eating disorder awareness week, with members of parliament hearing that anorexia kills 20% of its sufferers with a further 40% never recovering.

National charity Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC) was instrumental in achieving this debate and has praised it for bringing to the forefront some important issues surrounding the illness and the treatment of sufferers which are often not talked about.

ABC director Jane Smith said: “It’s fantastic that this debate has taken place and it marks a real step forward for us in raising awareness of the severity of the issue. Eating disorders have the highest fatality rate of all mental illnesses and we are seeing a steep increase in people coming to us for help.

“Far from being an issue exclusively affecting teenage girls, we are seeing boys and girls as young as eight and people in their eighties – again both men and women - needing help. The number of people with eating disorders is growing every year and the government needs to put more thought and funding into prevention and how we effectively treat sufferers, as the present system is not working for many reasons.”

The debate was led by MPs Caroline Nokes, David Burrowes, Tessa Munt and Mary Glindon.

David Burrowes recounted some heart breaking stories from constituents and said: “As needs are growing we need a better understanding of the problem in parliament. It is important for us to listen to individual stories and work out what was done well and what can be improved.

“I think we need to look at the training of health professionals so that they have a better understanding of eating disorders. One of the main problems is that the illness crosses over so many different departments including mental health and physical health which makes it difficult to treat.”

Tessa Munt said: “The debate was the first ever of its kind and shows that people are beginning to recognise the importance of the issue. It was well attended by the public, so I’m delighted.

“I’m convinced that when parliament talks about a problem like eating disorders it can cause a shift in attitude amongst the general population. We begin to recognise that people who suffer are from all walks of life and it helps us all to consider what we can do.

“From the debate I would like to look into why it is that this condition is so much more prevalent now. I think we need to consider how our on-the-go lifestyles are affecting our eating habits and whether stopping habits developing early ie. in schools could help.

“I also believe we need to look at how GPs react to these cases and we just need an overall fairer system. Sufferers need first class treatment rather than the cobbled together process which is offered now. Recovery would come more quickly and everyone would suffer less.

“I take my hat off to organisations like ABC, the Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association (SWEDA) and others which not only help to support sufferers and their families but also raise awareness in the media and the health profession, which is vital.”

Jane continued: “A huge point raised in the debate was whether the current Children’s Act should be reconsidered. As things stand a 16-year-old with anorexia is deemed capable of making their own decisions leaving distraught parents with no control unless the patient is eventually sectioned under the mental health act, which then has implications for the rest of their life.

“If we begin to look at processes like this I think we have a chance of helping more people and ultimately saving lives.”

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