Last night, BBC 2 aired a new documentary by Louis Theroux, Talking to Anorexia. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses, and those affected face stigma and misunderstanding, so we support and encourage media to raise awareness of eating disorders. In 2011, we produced a set of media guidelines to outline the way this can be achieved responsibly.
The programme provided a helpful insight into the thoughts and feelings of people suffering right now with anorexia, and also showed how this destructive illness affects the wider family. It highlighted the complex causes of anorexia and the challenges faced by those with the illness. It also showed how eating disorders can affect anyone, irrespective of age, ethnicity or background.
We will continue to work with the media to help further understanding, and to highlight a more diverse range of eating disorders. One group not highlighted by the programme are males, who, according to some studies, account for up to 25% of all people with an eating disorder.
As the programme features individuals continuing to battle their illness, we would encourage anyone who is suffering from an eating disorder to consider carefully before watching the documentary, as some content may be triggering or distressing. You could ask someone who is familiar with your experiences to watch first, as they may be better able to help you decide whether to watch yourself. Remember, if you need support, our Helplines are open seven days a week.
We thank the BBC and Louis Theroux for taking a sensitive approach to their documentary, and the individuals filmed for the programme, who very bravely shared their stories.