67% increase in bullying leading to eating disorder

Author: B-eat

Date: Nov 2012

Bullying has been found to be responsible for eating disorders in more than 75% of people surveyed by Beat. This represents a 67% increase since the charity carried out a similar survey two years ago. 

  • 600 people were surveyed
  • 90% said they had been bullied at some time in their life
  • 78% acknowledged that this had led to their eating disorder compared to 46% in Beat’s 2010 survey  
  • Over 40% said they were under the age of 10 when the bullying started.

Bullying has been found to be responsible for eating disorders in more than 75% of people surveyed by Beat. This represents a 67% increase since the charity carried out a similar survey two years ago.Chief Executive Susan Ringwood: We know that low self esteem can lead to eating disorders, and bullying of any kind lowers self esteem. Any increase in bullying is very worrying, especially when such young people are involved. We know how important it is for young peoples concerns about bullying to be taken seriously and sorted out quickly. Schools need to make sure their anti-bullying policies are effective and used - and not just a dusty document on a shelf.

Two eating disorder sufferers shared their experiences of being bullied:

Shana

I went to an all girls school and when I was away from school for a week on holiday my friends and other girls in the class started a 'hate' group. They all wrote 'shana h8r' on their hand. They had a shana h8r book which had pictures of me as a whale and a bus, poems and prayers about how fat and ugly I was and comments from all members. They also wrote stuff about me on the board in our classroom. I initially stopped eating for a while and then the eating disorder progressed. Then when I got under weight girls would make bitchy comments about how skinny I was, how I didn't eat and made myself sick.

Lindsay

At school I was bullied out of three groups of friends to the point where I sat by myself in and out of class. I never went out and now I still don’t. Bullying has destroyed my self-esteem - I have one friend - my flatmate - and I find socialising exceptionally difficult. I have no interest in relationships. Anorexia became my friend - it gave me comfort and separated me from the scary world of socialising - I didn't have anything else on my mind. I am now recovering but am still exceptionally controlled and rigid around mealtimes. The habits I developed from inpatient care as well as those from the illness are engraved within me and I fear they always will be. Bullying was the cause of low-self-esteem which was the cause of anorexia.

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Last revised: 8 January 2015

Next review: 8 January 2018