Cosmopolitan magazine has launched a campaign telling GPs that eating disorders are, yes, real illnesses, and they should be treated as such
Cosmopolitan magazine is partnering with Beat the eating disorder charity, to bring awareness to eating disorder treatment in the UK. The mag has set up a web page where women can print out open letters and bring them to their GPs, urging doctors to change the way in which they approach treating eating disorders.
Part of the letter reads, ‘Because of current guidelines some GPs feel their hands are tied unless a patient presents all the symptoms of anorexia or bulimia. Sadly, some people with serious mental health issues are not textbook cases.’
Statistics for eating disorders are difficult to track, because there are many more people suffering than those who receive inpatient treatment from the NHS. The most accurate statistic, according to Beat, is the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence’s figure, which estimates 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder. A 2007 NHS survey also found that 6.4 per cent of adults in the UK showed signs of an eating disorder.
About 50 percent of those fall into the EDNOS category, meaning anything not classified as anorexia or bulimia. The current guidelines for GPs have them telling patients to come back when their eating disorder gets worse, or can be classified as anorexia or bulimia.
Medic Clare Gerada, former chair of the Council of the Royal College of GPs said: ‘With eating disorders that fall outside these labels of anorexia and bulimia, there are treatments – mostly behavioural treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – which are well tried and tested and we should have access to.
‘But, for any mental health problem we currently have a 17-week waiting list for CBT,’ continued Dr Gerada. ‘You wouldn’t have to wait 17 weeks if you had a broken leg. We need mental health to be treated the same as physical health, waiting times should be put in place and there needs to be better investment.’
For more information or to get help for an eating disorder, visit b-eat.co.uk. Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 24-March 2.