New research by the BBC's Breakfast programme shows a rise in the number of people in England and Wales who are middle-aged or elderly and struggling with eating disorders.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1 How old was the first lady when she was diagnosed?
2 What is the accepted wisdom about eating disorders?
3 By how much has increased the number of people in their 60’s receiving specialist outpatient treatment?
4 Ideally, when should treatment be given?
5 What did Chris lose in four years?
6 Who are the beneficiaries of the government's investments in this area?
I was 44 years old and it was a massive shock … massive.
What am I going to eat? When am I going to eat. What plate am I going to eat of? You know; is that too much? Is that too little; it dominates your life very much.
You didn’t believe that this could be happening to somebody with your age?
I believed it doesn’t happen to older people and it definitely didn’t happen to me.
The accepted wisdom is that eating disorders strike the young, but Julie and Chris are two of a growing number of older people with anorexia.
For me being that age when I was diagnosed, I really felt that I should have known better.
While the overall rate of eating disorders is thought to be in decline, research carried out by Breakfast, show that in older age groups it is significantly increasing. The number of people in their 60’s receiving specialist outpatient treatment increased by almost a quarter in the last 4 years. For those in their 50’s there was a sharper increase of almost a third. Last year one in every 6 who received specialist treatment was over 40. Why might this be? In some cases like Chris, it is patients who slipped through the net over previous decades.
If you don’t get treatment early on, then recovery becomes difficult. You end up going back to hospital again and again and again.
But experts we’ve spoken to believe that in many cases like Julie’s the illness struck late in life out of the blue.
I knew I wasn’t eating, I knew I was depressed, but I had no idea that I couldn’t physically eat. In the 4 years, I lost two thirds of my body weight. I lost my husband and my job and I almost lost my life.
We showed our findings of Age UK who said eating disorders for older people are a serious issue and often overlooked by health professionals. There is a need for better awareness and support in treatment which is largely focussed on the young.
If there were people of a similar age that I’ve got a connection with, I would acknowledge that this does happen to people like me; its not just young people who suffer.
The government is investing in the area, but only to improve services for the young. In a statement they say: “We are investing £150 million to develop services for children and young people and have set targets for their care. There are also plans to develop standards that will improve care for adults with eating disorders”.
The last time I was in hospital, it really brought me face to face with what I’d lost. To anybody who is funding treatment or anything like that I’d say, give those people a chance, give them the treatment now, because it can stop.
2 that they strike the young
3 By almost a quarter
4 Early on
5 Two thirds of body weight, her husband, her job and almost her life
6 The young