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Surge in need for support debunks eating disorders myth

October 15th 2018 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bodywhys: The Eating Disorders Association of Ireland can report a range of increases in use of the organisation’s support services in 2017 (Annual Report 2017 – PDF). This includes:

  • A 128% increase in attendance by men at face-to-face support groups.
  • A 106% increase in attendance by friends and family members at support groups.
  • A 41% increase in email support requests.
  • A 10% increase in helpline calls from people affected by eating disorders.

Harriet Parsons, Training & Development Manager with Bodywhys said, “Looking back at 2017, we are struck by the extent to which men and friends and family members used our support groups. The perception that eating disorders only affect women and young girls is simply untrue. International research shows that risky and extreme food and diet behaviours have increased amongst men. It’s not surprising that men need support, the fact they are coming forward is positive.”

Parsons continued, “Hearing from others in a similar situation is helpful. This is evident in increased support seeking by friends and family members who often experience feelings of uncertainty and helplessness. The rise in contact with phone and email services also shows that communication is a key starting point and a necessary part of recovery in eating disorders.”

“Eating disorders remain complex mental illnesses, affecting a person’s thoughts, behaviours and emotional and physical health. There is no quick fix, but there is support and understanding,” concluded Parsons.

People can and do recover from eating disorders


Notes for Editors

  • The Health Service Executive’s Model of Care for Eating Disorders estimates that 188,895 people in Ireland will experience at eating disorder at some point in their lives. Approximately 1,757 new cases develop each year amongst the 10-49 age group.
  • According to the Health Research Board, in 2017, eating disorders represented 14% of all child and adolescent admissions to psychiatric units and hospitals. Of those affected by eating disorders, 11% were male.
  • Bodywhys is the national voluntary organisation supporting people affected by eating disorders.
  • Bodywhys lo-call helpline: 1890 200 444
  • Email support service
  • Bodywhys online support groups are available at

For further information, please contact:
Harriet Parsons, Training & Development Manager
Tel: 01 283 4963
Barry Murphy, Communications Officer
Tel: 01 283 4963
Mobile: 087 7769708