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Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can have severe psychological, physical and social consequences. They typically involve disordered eating behaviour, which might mean restricting food intake, binge-eating, purging, fasting or excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviours. They are associated with negative perceptions of body image, and while men and women of any age can develop eating disorders, they most commonly affect young women. In their clinical guideline on eating disorders the National Institute for Care Excellence state that the emotional and physical consequences of these beliefs and behaviours maintain the disorder and result in a high mortality rate from malnutrition, suicide and physical issues. Eating disorders most commonly start in adolescence but can also start during childhood or adulthood.  As with many other mental illnesses, eating disorders are often surrounded by stigma and misconceptions, which can make it harder for individuals and their families to seek help.

As well as outlining recent policy, this debate pack also pulls together press articles, reports and parliamentary material centred on the issue of the stigmas and stereotypes faced by those with eating disorders.

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