A THIRD of adults cannot name any signs or symptoms of an eating disorder, research has found.
YouGov conducted the study as this week marks Eating Disorder Awareness Week and charity Beat’s new #WhyWait campaign.
There is so much work to be done on reducing the stereotypes regarding eating disordersJess Mundy
Two thirds of people listed weight loss as a sign when many eating disorder cases start as a mental illness.
The results have been described as ‘worrying’ by Beat, who commissioned the study.
Jess Mundy, from Portsmouth, had bulimia for 10 years but said her family and friends were not aware of how to spot the signs of the eating disorder.
‘No one had any idea that I was suffering from bulimia, which progressed into binge eating disorder,’ she said.
‘Partly I believe this was due to the lack of obvious physical symptoms.’
Jess said a delay in recognising the signs affected her recovery.
She added: ‘Where I have always been overweight, it was always just assumed I was just on another diet.
‘Everyone assumed I was the classic yo-yo dieter, and no one batted an eyelid when my weight went up and down repeatedly.
‘Where I was older, I only got help when I was 28, people didn’t really believe that I could have an eating disorder.
‘There is so much work to be done on reducing the stereotypes regarding eating disorders.
‘Because I wasn’t a “skinny” teenager it’s like I wasn’t taken seriously.
‘This put me off even going to the doctors about my battles with food.
‘If people around me just saw a fat girl on a diet, then surely the doctor would too?’
Beat said the lack of awareness on the early signs of an eating disorder is causing a delay in treatment and an increased risk of the illness becoming severe and enduring.
Andrew Radford, chief executive, said: ‘This research has showed us that in the UK many people still do not know how to identify an eating disorder in its early stages.
‘These results are worrying because we know lack of awareness can stop sufferers getting the treatment they desperately need as soon as possible.’