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John Hunter Hospital School

John Hunter Hospital School

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Eating Disorders

Supporting students with eating disorders

Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia nervosa and other binge eating disorders. Eating disorders affect females and males and can have serious psychological and physical consequences. Family and friends of people with eating disorders may also face enormous stress.

Eating disorders are a mental illness. They can affect women and men of all age groups, from a range of backgrounds and from different cultures. Despite an increase in the incidence and understanding of eating disorders, many people live with these disorders for a long time without treatment or a clinical diagnosis.

A common misconception regarding eating disorders is that they are a fad, a diet gone wrong, or an attention-seeking attempt. This could not be further from the truth as eating disorders are serious, and in some cases fatal, mental illnesses which often require psychological and/or physical intervention to promote recovery.

Female adolescents and young women are most commonly detected with an eating disorder, but men can be also be affected by eating disorders. It is estimated that approximately one in every 100 Australian adolescent girls will develop anorexia nervosa and approximately five in 100 Australians develop bulimia.

There is no single cause of eating disorders. It is currently agreed that the causes of eating disorders are multifactorial – that is, social, psychological and biological factors all play a part, in varying degrees, for different people.

Eating disorder facts and myths

Eating disorders are a fad.

Myth - Eating disorders have increased in prevalence over the last 30 years.

Eating disorders are really just a harmless way to get attention. 

Myth - Eating disorders have a marked genetic component. No one chooses to have an eating disorder. The death rate for all eating disorders is significant, including death from suicide. These are serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses.

Eating disorders are diseases of rich, white girls. 

Myth - Eating disorders affect people of either gender, any age, socio-economic level, and ethnicity.

Eating disorders can be successfully treated. 

Fact - Early recognition and intervention greatly enhance chances of recovery. However, specialised treatment is essential.