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The fight against eating disorders

Anorexia affects thousands of Irish families every year and support services in Ireland are doing their best to respond to a surge in inquiries for help.

According to Bodywhys, an Irish voluntary organisation that receives funding from the HSE, about 3,000 people accessed their services in 2011.

Bodywhys runs Eating Disorders Awareness Week every February to raise awareness of the issues.

It has been estimated that up to 200,000 people in Ireland may be affected by eating disorders, with some 400 new cases emerging each year.

In 2009, a total of 44% of those who got in touch with Bodywhys used the internet to get information while the support group said it had seen a 24% increase in attendance.

Its helpline is run by 28 volunteers and it is a service that the organisation hopes to expand.

In 2009, it had 1,217 contacts through the helpline -- 42pc were from family and friends of people with eating disorders and 38pc were from people who have an eating disorder.

In terms of the age of a person with an eating disorder, 56% of contacts concerned a person aged between 15 and 24 years of age, 9% were under 15.

Public and media interest in the general area of eating disorders is high.

Research launched last year in the UK in January highlighted a substantial increase in the number of cases of eating disorders amongst under-16s over the past decade.

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The Bodywhys helpline number is lo-call 1890-200444. To receive an eating disorders information pack, text EDINFO with your name and postal address to 51500

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