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Eating Disorders

1 in 20 people have an eating disorder at some point in their lives, the majority between the ages of 16 and 25. Eating Disorders, also known as 'Disordered Eating', encompasses a wide range of different conditions, including binge-eating, bulimia, anorexia, and compulsive over-eating, although it is more often the case that an individual with an eating disorder does not clearly identify with any of these categories but experiences elements of all three categories. The technical term for this is EDNOS - eating disorder not otherwise specified. This is the most common type of eating difficulty.

Eating Disorders (EDs) are in no way a 'lifestyle choice', 'self indulgence' or solely prompted by the desire to be thin, and often an individual grappling with eating disorders is not clearly recognisable as such in their outwards appearance. EDs can have many causes and are often correlated with deeper underlying issues such as stress, guilt, low self-esteem, depression, a sense of loss or feeling of lack of control. To the outside world, people grappling with eating disorders can be extremely competent and composed, and excel in their day-to-day lives; it is often this which makes it hard to recognise or admit the problem, either to yourself or to others, and letting go of this coping mechanism may be a frightening step.

Students seeking support in relation to an eating disorder might find the following options useful:

  • The Students' Unions' Advice Service - make an appointment to speak in confidence with a Advisor. We do not offer specialist eating disorders support but can listen to anything you would like to talk about and explore options for support.
  • The University Counselling Service provides individual counselling and group sessions for students experiencing an eating disorder
  • Your GP may also be able to provide information, support and advice.
  • NHS - the NHS Choices site on eating disorders.
  • NHS in Cambridge - information about Cambridge's NHS eating disorders support.
  • The B-eat (national eating disorders charity) helpline, youthline or messaging service is a confidential helpline number which offers support to sufferers, family and friends.
  • MGEDT (Men Get Eating Disorders Too) - MGEDT is an award winning national charity is run by and for men with eating disorders including their carers and families.
  • Mind - Mind is a mental health charity with plenty of information about eating disorders.
  • SANE runs a national, out-of-hours helpline offering specialist emotional support and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers.
  • Mind infoline provides information on treatments and advocacy and details of help and support in your local area

If you are worried about a friend, the following resources may be useful:

Useful information on Eating Disorders: