Since my election as your Member of Parliament in 2010, I have frequently received correspondence relating to eating disorders, and this is an issue I am acutely aware of and concerned about.
A recent report released by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, outlined that lockdown had had a “devastating” impact on those with eating disorders or individuals at high risk of developing issues with their image.
This reports comes in addition to the worrying calls from campaigners and leading psychiatrists who speak of a “state of emergency” when discussing eating disorders.
Hospital admissions have risen fourfold in the past year and without extra investment the results could be catastrophic.
Whilst the pandemic has been all-encapsulating, we are seeing the emergence of “shadow pandemics” throughout society, and eating disorders is sadly yet another example where a crisis is bubbling over, ready to erupt at any moment, or as this report shows, has already erupted.
The most concerning aspect of this report, and also reports from investigative journalists, is the use of the Body Mass Index (BMI) metric, and the impact it has on individuals who require support.
BMI is a figure which is derived from an individual’s height and weight but has long been criticised as an unbalanced and inaccurate indicator of physical health.
When treating people with eating disorders medical professionals should take a holistic approach and understand that people have complex needs and issues.
As we emerge out of the pandemic I will be keeping a keen interest in how the UK Government implement the suggestions of the report and allay the concerns of myself and many others.