sv-icon-copy-1Early intervention is crucial to combatting eating disorders and provides the focus for Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW), running from 27 February to 5 March 2017.

The international awareness event seeks to inform and remind healthcare professionals and the wider public alike that signs and symptoms need to be recognised and dealt with promptly if the devastating and potentially life-threatening consequences of eating disorders are to be avoided.

Dr Brendan Hudson, Chair of NHS Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local GP, said: “Conditions such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating disorder can affect anyone regardless of gender or age or socio-economic background. The stigma attached to eating disorders – in common with many mental illnesses and conditions – means that so many people suffer in silence.”

As well as releasing a range of resources throughout the week to help both the public and healthcare professionals identify and act on early signs of these conditions Sock It to Eating Disorders day on 3 March is a spirited highlight of the week and a fun opportunity to raise funds for the cause.

Participants are encouraged to wear their silliest socks to school, work or university, make a donation and share a photo from the day using the #SockItSelfie hashtag. Click here to register for the Sock It to Eating Disorders fundraising pack.

Beat is also set to publish the results of the EDAW survey to help bring perspectives of patients and GPs together to discuss how to move the conversation around eating disorders forward positively.

Beat – the UK’s foremost eating disorders charity – has been supporting and campaigning on behalf of those affected by eating disorders for nearly thirty years. Through helplines, message boards, service directories, online and peer support groups and projects and events such as EDAW, Beat is working toward realising a world where fewer people suffer from eating disorders, and where those that do are met with care, understanding and rapid access to treatment.

It is prescient that EDAW should occur during what has been a challenging winter for the health service, as the insidious nature of eating disorders mean that the resources associated with treatment tend to balloon when early signs and symptoms are ignored.

While it might seem natural that the health service prioritises patients who present with more overt symptoms, the estimated £3.9 – £4.6billion annual NHS cost of treating eating disorders adds a public financial burden to a mental health epidemic as tragic as it is avoidable.

Click here to explore further fundraising possibilities throughout EDAW.

Click the links below for more information about eating disorders:

NHS Choices – Eating Disorders

NHS Choices – Overcoming Eating Disorders

NHS Choices – Find Eating Disorder Support Services