If you’ve been watching the video content I’ve been creating then you’ll have already heard me talk about how it’s important to raise awareness of the vast array of people that are affected by Eating Disorders. So, I was appreciative of former deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson for bravely sharing his struggle with disordered eating last week. During a podcast interview Tom spoke openly of compulsive over eating (or binge eating) for many years, and a worsening of his struggles during the third Covid-19 lockdown.
Perhaps without even realising it Tom is really smashing stereotypes here! As a middle age, male, with a binge eating related struggle, this is a stark contrast to the typical media portrayal of Eating Disorders affecting underweight young girls. By speaking out Tom may give many people struggling the awareness needed to realise that they (or someone they know) has an Eating Disorder or disordered eating. I hope that this creates conversation, compassion and also leads to some people seeking the help they deserve.
In case you were not aware, current research suggests around 25% of those with Eating Disorders are male. A number which has gradually increased over the years, most likely due to more men help seeking, rather than more men actually developing this type of struggle.
Tom even spoke about how his struggles started earlier in life when he tried a number of ‘fad diets’. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) at least 20% of this type of dieting leads to Eating Disorders, and even more develop disordered eating and obsessive patterns. So, this is also such an important topic to discuss.
As if that wasn’t already enough wonderful awareness raising for one interview, Tom also spoke of how his disordered eating contributed to the development of type 2 Diabetes. I feel that paying attention to the real, and potentially life taking medical consequences of ALL types of Eating Disorders is a vital part of the reality that is often over looked.
With each truthful personal story of an Eating Disorder shared, we are a step closer to breaking down the many stereotypes and misinformation that is still out there. In turn, perhaps we will have a chance at greater funding for research and treatment in this area.
It is highly unlikely Tom will ever read my blog, but just in case he does I would like to thank him for giving this interview – and I very much hope he has, or is accessing appropriate support.
I would love to hear in the comments if YOU feel these types of personally stories are helpful for your understanding of Eating Disorders?