eatingdisorderOne in three people with an eating disorder experiences stigma or discrimination in the workplace, according to a survey released by Beat to mark Eating Disorders Awareness Week (22-28 February).

The charity estimates that 725,000 men and women across the UK have an eating disorder, which is estimated to cost the UK economy £1.26 billion every year.

Beat’s chief executive, Andrew Radford, said: "Employers can play an important role in supporting recovery. The stigma and misunderstanding experienced by so many in the workplace must be replaced with support and compassion championed by a formal mechanism of support."

Other findings of the survey of more than 650 people with experience of an eating disorder included:
• 40% said their employers’ impact on their recovery was ‘unhelpful’
• Two thirds of people were unable to access support for their eating disorder at work
• 38% told us they used annual leave to attend medical appointments for their eating disorder
• More than 4 out of 5 said they didn’t think or didn’t know whether their employers and colleagues were ‘informed’ about eating disorders.

Radford added: "Our campaign has been driven not only by calls to our Helpline from concerned employers and worried colleagues but the knowledge that eating disorders represent a cost of £8 billion in terms of lost income to the economy every year.

"The responsibility for early identification and treatment of these serious mental illnesses should not lie with the health service alone. The whole of society must act if we are to improve the lives of everybody affected by an eating disorder."

Find out more: Book your place for The Childhood Obesity Framework - Tackling the epidemic from a child’s first 1,000 days onwards 

The charity is producing a best practice guide for employers and literature for distribution in the workplace, which will be available during Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Ahead of the week, a team of eating disorder specialists from Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust launched a new website,, to provide information about the condition.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Matthew Cahill said: “Eating disorders can often take over entire lives, and the lives of those close to the sufferer.

"More often than not, the things that were previously very important to the sufferer such as family, friends, hobbies, school or work get neglected as the eating disorder takes over."

The website contains information such as a dedicated ‘Cook-Along’ video page to help the viewer plan and prepare nutritional meals, with advice around how to reduce anxiety when preparing and eating food. It also holds online resources for sufferers, their families, healthcare professionals and the wider general public.

Find out more at and