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Number of boys and men with eating disorders in region rises 40pc in one year

PUBLISHED: 21:49 04 May 2017 | UPDATED: 21:49 04 May 2017

A generic photo of a man suffering with an eating disorder. Photo: PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos.

A generic photo of a man suffering with an eating disorder. Photo: PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos.

More boys and men are suffering with eating disorders in the region, with the number being treated high compared to many other parts of the UK.

Eating disorders charity Eating disorders charity "beat".

More boys and men are suffering with eating disorders in the region, with the number being treated high compared to many other parts of the UK.

A BBC investigation found the number of boys and men receiving treatment had grown twice as fast as women in the region, in the past three years.

The region’s mental health trust said they had experienced a rise of almost 40pc between 2015 and 2016 in the number of men they’ve worked with.

They are now treating 71 men, which makes them the fourth busiest trust in the country for male patients - only south London, Manchester and Hertfordshire saw more cases.

Jamie Pye. Photo: Sonya Duncan.Jamie Pye. Photo: Sonya Duncan.

Although male cases are still in the minority, Norwich-based charity Eating Matters - an early intervention service - saw an 82pc jump in the number of men referred to them in the last two years.

Some 10pc of the total number of clients it is working with at the moment are boys and men aged between seven and 74.

Beat, another Norwich-based charity, said between 15 - 20pc of eating disorder cases are seen in boys and men.

Tom Quinn, the charity’s director of external affairs, said: “While eating disorders are often stereotyped as an illness that affects only women and girls, up to a quarter of sufferers are thought to be male, and there may be many more male sufferers who do not feel able to seek help.

“These findings might indicate a rise in the number of men and boys suffering, but they also might indicate increasing awareness of eating disorders in men among both healthcare professionals and wider society, and an increasing number of male sufferers who feel able to come forward about their illness.

“Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses and early treatment gives a far greater chance of recovery, so anyone concerned about themselves should approach their GP as soon as possible.

“The Beat helpline team are always available to give support if needed.”

Jamie Pye from Norwich first realised he was suffering with anorexia in his teens, when his family pointed out he was avoiding food.

Mr Pye, 25, said it had started when he was at school and was called fat by cruel bullies.

“I think it really affected my self confidence and self esteem, I was quite a shy person anyway,” he said.

“It was more the avoidance of food, at first I didn’t realise I had an issue.”

Mr Pye battled the condition for four years, but said he has now mostly recovered.

Although he said it does still affect him in some ways.

But he thought attitudes had changed and people were more likely to seek help now.

“I think it’s been a case of the typical thing that men don’t talk about their feelings, they feel too embarrassed.

“But I think the best thing you can do is find someone to talk to or get some help. You can recover.

“At the time you think you can’t but you can and you are worth it.”

A spokesman for the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have seen an increase in referrals of men for support with eating disorders locally, and this reflects what is being seen across the UK, where the prevalence of eating disorders is increasing in both men and women.

“This increase in male referrals may be due to a myriad of factors that may influence self-worth and self-perception in men. Societal pressures and controversy around what constitutes good and bad food, peer pressure, the power of social media and the desire to feel accepted by ‘being perfect’, may all be contributing to this.”

The spokesman said its community eating disorder services have been continually expanding over the past two years, as overall demand has increased.

The spokesman said: “We deliver our services in Norfolk and Suffolk via multi-disciplinary teams of specialists who provide assessment and treatment for disorders such as anorexia and bulimia including talking therapies and medication.

“And we aim to reach people at an early stage of the illness by working with other professionals and agencies who are involved in young people’s lives, such as schools to support them and help their understanding of eating disorders.”

The spokesman said they also worked with patients and their families collaboratively to put together individually tailored treatment plans well individual and group therapies to help them manage their feelings, as well as health and nutritional restoration within a holistic care model.

“NSFT has also contracted Beat, the eating disorders charity, to provide training and education to help our staff and NHS colleagues recognise the symptoms so that people can access help at the earliest opportunity.”

To get in touch with Beat, for under 18s email fyp@b-eat.co.uk or call 080 801 0711.

For adults, email help@b-eat.co.uk or call 0808 801 0677. Phone lines are open from 4pm to 10pm.

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