UP to 7,000 people in South Derbyshire could be suffering from an eating disorder, the district’s MP has claimed.
Heather Wheeler revealed the potential toll during a parliamentary debate on the issue during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
The Conservative highlighted the particularly devastating impact of anorexia nervosa, which kills a fifth of those it affects – more than any other mental illness.
She said: The risk of death for anorexia is twice that of schizophrenia and three times that of clinical depression.
“It even exceeds borderline personality disorder, which has one of the highest incidences of death by suicide.
“Of all the mental illnesses likely to lead to death, anorexia is the most likely to kill its victim.
“That is why it is essential those with a potential disorder, especially anorexia, get urgent help.”
Mrs Wheeler also spotlighted ‘the worrying growth in eating disorders among men’, a trend indicated by a two-thirds increase in hospital admissions in the past decade.
She said cases were more likely to go unreported among men than women, and pointed out that gay and bisexual men were twice as likely as heterosexuals to suffer.
Mrs Wheeler took advantage of the debate to plead for greater awareness of the root causes of eating disorders and for the NHS to provide better services whenever they were needed, especially for anorexics.
She told MPs: “We need to urgently tackle the causes and enable people to access the cures for these most lethal of mental health problems.
“The time lag between consent and treatment is often too long, meaning the sufferer doesn’t immediately receive the treatment they need.
“The time delay can in many cases prove fatal.”
Mrs Wheeler said as many as 4.25 million people in the UK could be suffering from an eating disorder.