Currently it is estimated that at any one time 1.6 million people in the UK will have an eating disorder, however it is suggested that these figures vastly underestimate the number of people living with these disorders due the high levels of stigma and shame. While no official figures are available for the prevalence of these disorders in Northern Ireland estimates suggest that between 18,000 and 20,000 individuals will be living with an eating disorder in Northern Ireland at any one time. Disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder and Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specificed (EDNOS). Increasingly, presentations of muscle dysmorphia and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) are being seen within local and national services.
While eating disorders are traditionally seen as illnesses that most commonly affect teenage girls, it must
be remembered that eating disorders can and do affect anyone irrespective of age, gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity. It is also important to know that not everyone will have the same signs, symptoms and experiences. Some people will fit into one diagnostic category while others will have a mix of symptoms that make it more complicated to diagnose or spot their eating disorders. It is also important to know that you do not need to have all these symptoms associated with the diagnostic category to have an eating disorder. In this section about eating disorders we have provide a brief overview about what the different types of eating disorders are and how you might spot them however due to the complex nature of these disorders you might find it isn't as clear cut as this - that is okay, and entirely normal!
However, if you suspect that you or someone you care for may have an eating disorder, seek advice and support. The sooner eating disorders are addressed and treated the better the chance of recovery.
Recovery is possible, and you do not have to do this alone.