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Eating disorders in children - information and advice for parents and carers

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Spotting the signs of an eating disorder

Spotting the early signs of an eating disorder, such as, anorexia or bulimia, is really important to ensure your child or young person gets the support they need as quickly as possible.

Beat is a leading charity who support anyone affected by eating disorders. They have a useful poster aimed at helping parents to identify the signs of an eating disorder which can be downloaded free of charge from their website – 'Spotting the first signs of an eating disorder'

Orthorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is not as well known. It is when a person has an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. This means they are fixated on eating certain foods that they believe is of quality and purity, clean or righteous, and they become consumed with what and how much to eat. They punish themselves with fasts, diets or exercise when they slip-up with their eating obsession. More details about Orthorexia can also be found on the Beat Eating Disorders Website

Be aware that eating disorders do not just occur in girls, more boys are getting eating disorders.

My child has an eating disorder, what should I do?

If you are concerned that your child or young person has an eating disorder, please do not ignore it. Make a urgent appointment at your GP surgery for support.

The Beat eating disorders website has a leaflet you can take along to a GP appointment to help with a referral which can be downloaded here

Does your child need urgent help?

If it's not a life threatening emergency call NHS 111 and they will talk you through what happens next.

Where can I find useful resources? 

MindEd-for families is a website funded by the Department of Education, specifically to help advise parents and carers on a range of child related issues. They have useful content about eating disorders on their website, which includes how to talk to your child, manage your emotions, and cope at meal times.

The YoungMinds charity has a leaflet for parents titledEating problems and your child', which you can download a free digital version of from their website.

Where can I find local support groups and organisations who can help?

Here is a list of local support services and organisations for eating disorders (you can filter the list to find what you need).

Where can I find a useful health and wellbeing App?

If you are looking for helpful phone Apps that can provide some in-hand support to a young person struggling with emotional issues, please see our list of the best emotional wellbeing Apps reviewed by young people, which includes an app to help manage an eating disorder.

Who can I speak to for advice?

The following helplines offer friendly and confidential advice to parents. They have trained advisers that can help provide answers to your questions.

B-eat adult helpline 0808 801 0677 

Helpline available every day from 3pm to 10pm. If you can't get through immediately, please do try again. Outside of these hours, you can email them at 

YoungMinds Parent Helpline 0808 802 5544

Helpline available Monday-Friday, from 9.30am to 4pm.

Suffolk School Nursing - ChatHealth Text Service

Text 07507 333356 for confidential health advice from the school nurse (available Mon-Fri 9.30am to 4.30pm).

Latest news:

Beat are running eating disorders raising awareness training days across Suffolk. 

Beat, the UK's eating disorder charity has been commissioned by Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to deliver free eating disorders raising awareness training days. For details of up and coming courses, please visit their website: 


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