Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2024

Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) is an annual event which aims to promote awareness and provide hope and support to people and families that have been or are being affected by eating disorders. This year’s EDAW is taking place Monday 26th February to Sunday 3rd March. Around 1.25 million people in the UK suffer with eating disorders, many in secret, and we know that since the pandemic there has been a significant increase in the number of children and young people needing support.

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are severe and complex mental health conditions that usually arise as a way of coping with negative or painful thoughts and feelings. They do not discriminate, and affect people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Common types of eating disorders you may have heard of include Binge Eating Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, and Bulimia Nervosa. Quite often symptoms can overlap, which can lead to a diagnosis of OSFED (other specified feeding or eating disorder). These disorders are commonly associated with body dissatisfaction and preoccupations with weight, shape, and body size.

Some eating disorders however don’t stem from concerns or beliefs about weight or health, but instead arise due to a lack of interest in food, sensory sensitivity, and/or fear of aversive consequences of eating, such as being sick or choking. This is known as ARFID which stands for avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, and is characterised by a pattern of eating that omits certain foods or food groups in their entirety, and/or only eating in small amounts.

This year, EDAW is shining a light on ARFID, as this disorder is largely unknown and misunderstood, and can have serious consequences for health if left untreated. Too often the misconceptions about ‘picky’ or ‘fussy’ eating can trivialise this disorder, and the stigma and judgement of this can make outcomes worse. The number of people affected by ARFID is unknown and accessing treatment can be challenging, with treatment unfortunately not available nationwide. This means people with ARFID, or who suspect they may have it, struggle to access the help they need.

National charity ‘Beat Eating Disorders’ are running a free hour long webinar on Thursday 29th February at 7pm, where they will be looking at improving awareness and understanding of ARFID, separating myths and facts and exploring what can be done to support individuals and families living with ARFID. To join this free webinar, you will need to login or sign-up to POD, their online support group for parents/carers.

Getting Support

Beat also offer a support group called Hummingbird, which is a confidential, inclusive and welcoming space for anyone who has or thinks they might have ARFID. This support group runs on a Sunday 6.45-7.45pm.

Local support in Devon is also available through Parental Minds CIC, who have a specific support group and resources for parents with children struggling with eating disorders.

School Resources

A range of information and training for use in school are available here:

If you have any queries or comments, please get in touch with us at dswp@devon.gov.uk. If you are concerned about a pupil at your school, please seek advice from a Safeguarding Lead, School Nurse, Designated Mental Health Lead, or MHST Lead.

Scroll to Top