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Title/Topic: Eating Disorders Warning to Parents
Posted On: 6/23/2009
June 23 2009, London (Ilford Recorder) – Experts are preparing to treat children as young as eight for life threatening eating disorders as parents are warned to be on their guard.

The Community Eating Disorder service at North East London Foundation Trust was officially established in March and bosses have told the Recorder of the high demand already being placed on the service.

Figures show the team, which is not yet fully staffed, had 50 referrals in that time – 28 for anorexia, 13 for binge eating, eight for bulimia and one overweight person being assessed before having a gastric band fitted.

Ages range from 16 to 51.

Manager Stuart Marks, based in the Brookside Young People’s Unit, Barley Lane, Goodmayes, said various things can trigger an episode and feels friends and family have a huge role to play.

He said: “Eating disorders can become life threatening conditions. By their very nature eating disorders tend to be secretive and people do not often notice there is a problem.

“Usually conditions start to develop in adolescence and have generally been around for years before family and friends realise.”

General indicators can be mistaken for the sudden pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.

Mr Marks said: “Normally a parent would be delighted to hear their child is developing an interest in healthy eating and taking part in more physical exercise.

“But coupled together with reducing food portions and perhaps skipping lunch, this could develop into an eating disorder.

“The youngsters will normally try and wear baggier clothes and will make it very difficult for their parents to see them with no clothes on.”

Friends are also urged to do the right thing, even if it means breaking promises of silence, while families can force treatment under the Mental Health Act.

Mr Marks said: “It is very difficult to get a child to speak about these issues, there is a tremendous amount of shame they feel.

“Friends and relations have to speak out to GPs, teachers and ourselves. The earlier treatment can start the more effective it is.”

The service operates from a number of bases across Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Waltham Forest and experts treat a wide range of conditions.

The team can be contacted on 0844 600 1200.

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