Important facts about eating disorders

  • Eating disorders will affect approximately 4 in 50 women and 1 in 50 men.

  • Eating disorders are a group of recognised mental health conditions. 

  • Eating disorders most commonly start in adolescence, but also occur in adults.

  • Eating disorders can affect anyone.

  • There is no single cause for eating disorders – they are associated with a combination of causal factors such as genetics (50-60%), nutrition, puberty, certain personality traits, trauma, stress etc. Eating disorders are not a lifestyle choice.

  • It can be hard for a person with an eating disorder to get better alone. A strong support network of families, carers, friends makes all the difference.

  • Eating disorders cause psychological and physical complications and some of these are life-threatening. 

  • With early intervention and evidence-based treatment, the chance of recovery is very good. 

  • Specialist outpatient treatment has been found to be a very effective care setting for recovery for most people and for most eating disorders. A small number of people will need to receive some of their treatment in an inpatient setting.

  • Although Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is the least common, people with it experience higher risk of medical complications. Anorexia Nervosa has the highest level of mortality and co-occurring conditions of all of the mental health conditions.

  • The most common eating disorder is Binge Eating Disorder, and this can usually be managed with guided self-help. See our Guided Self Help section.

  • People can have eating disorders at any weight, shape, age and size


​​Dr Sara McDevitt talks about weight and eating disorders