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Last updated:
23 October 2017

Eating disorders

Find out what you can do to support yourself or someone you know who might have an eating disorder.

1 Overview

Eating disorders are when abnormal attitudes towards food cause changes to eating habits and behaviour. They affect both men and women at any age and are not caused by one single thing, but often a combination of factors including being criticised for eating habits, body shape or weight, difficult relationships with friends or family or having a family history of eating disorders.

They are not caused by one single thing, but often a combination of factors including being criticised for eating habits, body shape or weight, difficult relationships with friends or family or having a family history of eating disorders.

If you are concerned that someone you know may have an eating disorder, try talking to them about it. They may be secretive or defensive about their weight or eating habits, but there are warning signs you can look out for.

2 Types of eating disorder

The three most common eating disorders are shown below.

  • Anorexia Nervosa - when a person tries to keep their weight as low as possible by starving themselves or exercising excessively.
  • Bulimia Nervosa - when a person goes through periods of binge eating and is then deliberately sick or uses laxatives to try to control their weight.
  • Binge Eating Disorder - when a person feels compelled to overeat large amounts of food in a short space of time.

Watch these videos on the NHS Choices to understand more about life with anorexia or bulimia and see how sufferers have overcome their illnesses.

3 Getting help for an eating disorder

If you are worried you may have an eating disorder.

  • Talk to a friend or a family member
  • Talk to a GP who can refer you for specialist treatment.

If you think you need professional help, you can contact Family Eating Disorder Service (FEDS).

How to get help

If you live in Sussex and you are registered with a doctor (GP), you can get help from the FEDS.

They provide care, treatment and support for children and young people aged 10-18 years old and will continue to treat up to 19 years old when appropriate.

What the service offers

You can get care and support that includes:

  • routine appointments
  • home visits
  • text messaging
  • emailing
  • telephone contact.

You can also opt for care and support to be provided to you in your home if you prefer.

Getting a referral

You can get a referral either by telephone, email or online. You can do this yourself, through your GP, school or college or a number of other healthcare and youth services.

Please note, unless you state otherwise, a member of the team will contact your parent or carer by telephone and/or face-to-face meeting within 24 hours of your referral.

4 Find out more

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