Eating disorders - guidance for young people

What eating disorders are, how they affect your life, and how to seek help.


What is an eating disorder?

It is very important for you to eat healthily. Eating bad or not enough food can affect your health, mood and concentration. Sometimes eating badly can develop into what is called an eating disorder. These can begin when you:

  • Are overly concerned about how much you eat and gaining weight.
  • Want to lose weight despite being told you are underweight.
  • Lie or are secretive about what you have eaten.
  • Feel guilty for eating
  • Make yourself vomit or use laxatives in the hope it will make you lose weight.
  • The most common forms of eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.

What causes eating disorders?

Eating disorders are usually caused by a number of factors. Some people use food to cope with painful situations such as:

  • Low self esteem
  • Problems with relationships
  • The death of someone close
  • Problems at school or college
  • Problems at home.
  • Being bullied

Who is affected by eating disorders?

Although it does tend to be young women that are affected by eating disorders, young men can also be affected.

What should I do if I think I have an eating disorder?

If you think you have an eating disorder, talk to someone you trust, like a friend, teacher or parent. It is also important that you speak to your GP who can advise you on a healthy diet, and maybe refer you to a specialist.

You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from beat ( by calling their helpline on 0845 634 1414. They also have a designated youth helpline on 0845 634 7650.

You can find information on eating healthily on the NHS website.