Eating disorders in the young

Bearing flickering candles in memory of lost daughters and sons, two hundred parents yesterday processed into Southwark Cathedral for the first memorial service of its kind. The children they have lost were not victims of war in Afghanistan, but of a battle against a different, but deadly, enemy. Theirs are the victims of eating disorders, the most lethal mental illness to strike young people.

Among those carrying candles were the parents of Anna Wood, a 16-year-old who died on May 26th from a heart attack. Seventeen months previously she had joined her mother, Christine Gibson, on a post-Christmas diet. “After five or six weeks, I stopped dieting but she just carried on reducing her food intake,” says Mrs Gibson. “She made it look like she was eating but really she was eating far less than she should have been. She became deceptive and sneaky.”

Only one in a hundred young people – 90 per cent of them girls – develops a serious eating disorder, according to the charity Beat, organisers of the memorial service. Many more toy with either eating too little, bingeing and vomiting, or over-eating. Becoming obsessed with food is almost a rite of passage for teenage girls as they enter the age of uncertainty about their looks and place in the world. By controlling their food intake they can feel that, at least, they have mastery over one part of their lives.

Read the full article at The Telegraph.

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