Spurgeons tackles eating disorder myths as rates climb among children

Spurgeons tackles eating disorder myths as rates climb among children

During Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Spurgeons has launched new video animations to support a growing number of children with eating disorders and to tackle harmful myths surrounding them. These resources aim to educate parents, carers, and professionals on how to support children and young people facing the conditions.

The latest NHS statistics report shows an 82% rise in hospital admissions for eating disorders in children and young people. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about these disorders that can prevent children from being identified as having an eating disorder and receiving the right help. With its latest initiative, Spurgeons is committed to dispelling myths and educating on different types of eating disorders, their causes, treatments and how to prevent them. 

The concern is rising over unknown cases of eating disorders among boys and research suggests 25% of people with an eating disorder in the UK are male. Debbie Pattison, Senior Counsellor, and Digital Counselling Service Lead for Spurgeons Children’s Charity, worked with Chris* a 15-year-old boy who was hospitalised with an eating disorder following his parent’s separation and was eventually referred to an eating disorders clinic. 

“Chris came from a family where mum had left, and he needed to find some way of feeling back in control of his life. He wasn’t feeling good enough and thought he was overweight, he wondered if that was the reason for his mum leaving. Consciously or not, he found a sense of control in food and began restricting how much he ate and exercising more. He knew how many calories he was having each day and how much exercise was needed to burn off those calories and he knew he was running at a constant deficit eventually becoming medically unwell. 

Eating disorders affect individuals of all genders, but I challenge the percentage of boys who are known to have an eating disorder because of the stigma that still surrounds male mental health and harmful stereotypes of masculinity. I believe this is a barrier to them being identified and seeking help. I think males still face the ‘boys don’t cry’ mentality and the assumption remains in society today that boys don’t care how they look, have issues with their weight or have feelings and emotions.”

Ian Soars, the charity’s CEO, says, “The earlier an eating disorder is identified the better the chances are of recovery and that’s why it’s vital that those who have a responsibility of care for young people aren’t hindered by myths around the disorders and are equipped to spot the signs of one in all genders. We see this package of animations as a gift to those who seek to support children and young people as they wait for specialist treatment and begin their journey towards recovery.”

Eating disorders are recognised by doctors and psychiatrists as serious mental health conditions and are estimated to affect 1.25 million people in the UK. As rates climb among children, young people and in particular, males, the charity is making the animations accessible, free of charge, to anyone through the launch of a dedicated web page.  

For more information and to view the animations visit our Disordered Eating Toolkit online.