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'There is always Hope' says charity supporting those with eating disorders

by Donna Birrell

The number of young people with eating disorders being admitted to hospital in England has risen during the pandemic.

That's according to a BBC investigation which found the number of under-20s taken into hospital over the past year topped 3,200 - nearly 50 per cent higher than in 2019-20.

Di Archer is from Taste Life UK, which supports people suffering from eating disorders. 

She told Premier the charity is also supporting more people with eating disorders than before the pandemic: 

"I'm sadly, not at all surprised and it's something that we've seen already in the people that get in contact with us. We now have a waiting list for our courses, which we didn't have before. 

"I think it's been a really difficult time for everyone over the last 18 months, not just for those people who have developed eating disorders, but we have all been in a whole new world, a whole difficult thing that none of us were prepared for. And that produces a lot of fear and uncertainty, you feel like your life has been put on hold or disrupted no matter what age you are. 

"So, I think that while we're sad about it, we aren't surprised, because the big thing about eating disorders is that they are a kind of technique, a coping technique for life. And we all have them - they sold more alcohol as well over the last 18 months. And we've all tried to find ways of coping. And, and the thing about eating behaviour is it's a way of trying to cope with life, with things that feel uncertain. 

"A lot of mums and daughters and sons have come to us. I think, especially for younger people, they've spent more time online, more time on social media, there's so much good about social media, [but] there's also a lot of pressure, especially when you're at those vulnerable ages. So, I think it has been a bit of a perfect storm as far as eating disorders are concerned. Because with eating disorders, it's a way of feeling like you're gaining some control."

But Di Archer is keen to stress that there is always hope:

"I think it's very easy to think with eating disorders 'oh, I'm stuck with it now forever.' And that is just not true. Recovery is possible, but you do need support.

"Absolutely, there is always, always hope. And that's our number one message, because we've seen it happen time and time again."

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