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Patients with "Too High" BMI Refused Treatment

New information sheds light on the amount of people who are refused treatment for an eating disorder because their BMI (Body Mass Index) is considered too high.

The information, acquired through the BBC, highlights a significant amount of sufferers who felt overlooked after being told they were not thin enough to receive care, even though they displayed symptoms of an eating disorder.

Not only is BMI alone an unreliable way of detecting an eating disorder, it ignores the emotional stress that comes with it. There is also a danger of allowing the sufferer’s symptoms to grow in severity before an intervention is made.

Eating Disorder Statistics

Figures from the Beat: Beating Eating Disorders charity found the following:

  • More than 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder.
  • The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence estimates around 11% of those affected by an eating disorder are male.
  • Figures published in February 2014 by The Health and Care Information Centre show an 8% rise in the number of inpatient hospital admissions in the 12 months to October 2013.
  • An estimated 40% of people with an eating disorder have bulimia, 10% anorexia, and the rest other conditions, such as binge-eating disorder.

While BBC Newsbeat discovered:

  • The number of hospital admissions across the UK for teenagers with eating disorders has nearly doubled in the last three years (959 13 to 19-year-olds in 2010/11 to 1,815 in 2013/14)

BMI is an unreliable measure

Nick Harrop, the Media and Campaigns Manager for YoungMinds, said:

“It is extremely worrying that so many young people struggling with eating disorders are being turned away from treatment.

We know that eating disorders come in many forms, and that BMI on its own is an unreliable measure of assessing their severity.

It is essential that we address the underlying emotional causes behind extreme relationships with food as early as possible in young people, so that these damaging behaviours do not become more entrenched and severe in adulthood.”

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