Eating Disorders Awareness Week

This week has been Eating Disorders Awareness Week (26th February – 4th March). To find out more, visit the BEAT website.

There are four main types of Eating Disorders which include

  • Anorexia (Anorexia Nervosa) – categorised by restricted diet and excessive exercise.
  • Bulimia – categorised by occurrences of overeating, followed by purging (making themselves sick), restricted diet, or excessive exercising.
  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED) – categorised by overeating, consuming large portions of food in one meal, which can be followed by feelings of guilt or shame.
  • Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED) – this diagnosis is given when the symptoms or behaviours don’t ,meet the criteria of the other Eating disorders.

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It was reported a few weeks ago that there are almost twice as many admissions of Bulimia and Anorexia in England, compared to figures from 2012 (Sky News). These figures are worrying as so many people struggle with Eating Disorders, but promising that people are able to seek help. Unfortunately BEAT report that it takes people three years to get the help and support they need. There may be many factors that contribute to a person developing an Eating Disorder. There is typically a stressful event in the person’s life, but a lot of emphasis has been placed on social media. Children, teenagers and adults can feel pressured by the images of others they see on social media, to be more attractive, or thinner.

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In August 2016, I reviewed Eating Disorders in the Busy Analytical Newsletter. Compared to other disorders and topics, Eating Disorders is not as widely researched within the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).

-> Read the August edition <-

However ABA and the principles, may help us understand the behaviours associated with Eating Disorders and may help us develop successful interventions to support recovery. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a therapy that may help people seeking support with an Eating Disorder. ACT derives from Relational Frame Theory (RFT) which is a theory associated with the principles of ABA and how we learn behaviour and language. Researchers have shown that ACT can be successful (Lillis, et al, 2011), with people with Eating Disorders. Lillis et al (2011) found that people who were binge eating reported a reduction of binge eating, following attending an ACT workshop. They also observed a reduction in their weight which supported the reports of less binge eating. This is promising and further research is needed. As admissions are on the rise, the social significance is huge and could help many people struggling with this.



BEAT, Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Retrieved from:

Lillis, J., Hayes, S. C., Levin, S. C. (2011). Binge Eating and Weight Control: The Role of Experiential Avoidance. Behaviour Modification, 1-13. doi:10.1177/0145445510397178.

Sky News, Eating disorder admissions in England double in six years, Retrieved from:

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