Saturday 1 October 2016

'Eating disorders are not just a teenage issue' - Majority of calls to helpline from older age groups

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 09/08/2016 | 11:16

Bodywhys has released the latest figures on people calling their helpline.
Bodywhys has released the latest figures on people calling their helpline.
Harriet Parsons from the eating disorder association Bodywhys

Increasing numbers of people aged 36 and older are suffering from eating disorders, according to a new report.

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Bodywhys, the eating disorders association of Ireland, has just released their annual report, which found that there was a 19pc increase in email contacts from people aged 36-55 and a 9pc increase in calls to the helpline from the same demographic.

They also noted an 8pc increase in calls from people aged over 56 years old.

Harriet Parson, services manager with the organisation, said Bodywhys has “seen a change in the age profile” of people who access their support services.

“This means that the majority of calls taken in 2015 concerned someone aged over 36 years old. This trend also emerged on our email support service, with a 20pc increase in contacts from people aged over 36 years old,” she said.

She added that the results are “yet more evidence to challenge the myth that an eating disorder is a ‘teenage issue’”.

Harriet Parsons from the eating disorder association Bodywhys
Harriet Parsons from the eating disorder association Bodywhys

Bodywhys noted a 10pc increase in people using their support services in 2015.

The report also found that 46pc of all helpline callers and 44pc of email contacts had suffered with an eating disorder for more than 10 years.

Although callers do not always state whether they are receiving treatment, some 51pc reported that they were not in any form of treatment.

For those calling the helpline, anorexia was the most common type of eating disorder, at 58pc, with 23pc reporting binge eating disorder (BED) and 16pc reporting bulimia.

Anorexia was also the most common type of eating disorder among those seeking email support (60pc), followed by BED (11pc) and bulimia (10pc).

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