Health and Wellbeing

Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Bel, Counselling & Wellbeing Placement Student, provides more information about Eating Disorder Awareness Week… 

What is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder can be any one of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits (such as anorexia nervosa).

Four of the Most Common Eating Disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa

Individuals with Anorexia will frequently have a complicated relationship with food, experiencing a severe fear of gaining weight and potentially disturbed views on eating and exercise. This leads to a restricted diet which is sometimes accompanied by over exercising, leading to weight loss or maintaining a low weight which is not natural or healthy for that person. This impacts both the mental capacity and physical capacity of the sufferer, as malnutrition impacts daily functioning heavily.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is characterised by the constant cycle between binge-eating and purging (ridding your body of food by taking laxatives or making yourself sick). Professionals define bingeing as the consumption of a large amount of food in a short amount of time, accompanied by the feeling of being out of control. Bingeing often occurs because between these cycles, people with Bulimia will often restrict their diet and therefore are almost constantly hungry; it is then more likely a negative emotion will trigger a binge. Following this, the individual will often feel physically uncomfortable due to the amount of food eaten, and also feel guilt or shame due to the loss of control that occurs during a binge. This frequently leads to purging, which is also fuelled by the fear of gaining weight due to the food consumed during a binge. There is also a non-purging sub-type of Bulimia, where sufferers will not purge by making themselves sick or taking laxatives, but instead will do excessive exercise to try to counteract the food eaten during a binge.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder presents in a similar way to Bulimia Nervosa, however the patient will not purge after bingeing. Binges are defined the same way, and people with BED will often plan binges and go out and buy ‘special’ foods. They feel they have no control over what they eat and often see binges as ‘inevitable’. Sometimes, between binges, people with BED will try to cut down on what they eat to compensate. This, however, sends confusing messages to the brain and will often cue cravings for food the body doesn’t actually need, creating a viscous cycle. The split between male and female sufferers is more equal in BED than it is in other eating disorders.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)

An individual with Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder may experience many of the symptoms others with Anorexia, Bulimia or BED experience, however they won’t exactly fit the criteria for any of these. This does not make this type of eating disorder any less severe. 40-60% of people who access help for their eating disorders are diagnosed with OSFED, and it affects males and females equally.


  • It is estimated that over 1.6 million people in the UK are directly affected by eating disorders
  • 91% of women surveyed on a university campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting, whilst 22% dieted often or always
  • Anorexia Nervosa is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents
  • 25% of university-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique
  • An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia and bulimia are male, however men are less likely to seek treatment than women
  • Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for clinical depression
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among psychiatric disorders

This week being Eating Disorders Awareness Week, the society Student Minds Cardiff are running several events to raise awareness and encourage people to access support if they need it.

These events include:

  • The weekly eating disorder support group, Thursday 4H Student’s Union, 6.15-7.15pm
  • A stall in the Students’ Union on Friday raising awareness by giving out free memory sticks with eating disorder information on them. 11am-2pm

For more information, click here.

As you can see from all of the information above, eating disorders are a very serious issue and can cause a lot of harm to those suffering. But the future is not bleak: you CAN recover from an eating disorder.

Those who decide to access help can receive a wide range of services both privately and from the NHS. These range from support groups to inpatient care to the deliverance of CBT-e, which is a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy designed specifically for those with eating disorders.

If you believe you or a friend are suffering from an eating disorder, please do not hesitate to ask for help. You can do this by visiting your GP (if you are not registered with a GP, please contact Park Place Surgery ) or by accessing the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service. You can either apply for an appointment online or come to a drop-in session.

Contacting Counselling, Health & Wellbeing

Watch our video and see for yourself that we have friendly and approachable staff. Staff who are able to listen to you non-judgmentally, in a safe and confidential space. Whatever it is you need help with please contact us – you can access our drop-in from Monday-Friday 3-3:45pm for a non-bookable, 10-15 minutes appointment to have an initial chat with us or, alternatively, please refer into our service by completing our referral questionnaire.

If you are worried about your health, we strongly advise you to make a GP appointment to discuss this. If you do not already have GP please contact Park Place Surgery.
Best wishes

Bel, Student Intern
Counselling, Health & Wellbeing Team

Your Student Life, Supported.

The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.

The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.

For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.

Useful links and references:

NHS choices website on Eating Disorders

Student Minds website



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