Higher Education

Students are one of the most vulnerable categories. Young people, aged between 14 and 25 are most at risk of developing eating disorders. Incidence rates for Anorexia Nervosa are highest for females in the 15 – 19 age group. This age group constitutes approximately 40% of all identified cases. The average age of developing Bulimia Nervosa is between 20-24.

With 3 -10% of students receiving university counseling each year, as many as 23,000 UK students annually struggle with emotional issues. Eating disorders are one of the greatest concerns. ABC is here to support you in your role, whether you work within Student Services, the university medical team or within other faculties. 

We’ve provided training and resources to the University of Bath, Winchester University, UWE, Bristol University and Keele University, supporting students and staff across the country. To book a training session with the team at ABC to to enquire about our services, email us. 

Eating disorders stem from behaviours that can be triggered by life experiences, emotional difficulties and genetics. Many students come to university already managing multiple emotional burdens – living with the effects of bereavement, a breakdown of a relationship, a physical or psychological illness. 

Working within a higher education setting, you’ll be aware of the significant time of change that university represents for young people. It is most likely to be their first time of living away from home and it can take time to adjust to a new independent lifestyle while managing increased academic study and a new social and geographical environment. It is not unusual for this transition to have an effect on a person’s eating and the way they feel about their self-esteem. They may rely on certain eating habits and develop disordered thoughts around food, which may become a coping mechanism (even subconsciously) for managing the emotions they’re experiencing. This coping mechanism can develop into an eating disorder, which then begins to control the person suffering to a point of dangerous consequences, both emotionally and physically. The earlier the person receives support, the greater their chances of recovery. For more information on eating disorders, please see understanding eating disorders. 

Spotting the Signs

  • Weight loss or gain

  • Low BMI

  • Big baggy clothing or skin tight in small size

  • Avoidance of meal times, snacks, socializing

  • Changes in mood – loss of interest, withdrawal, ultra sensitivity, tearfulness

  • Loss of friends, depression and isolation

  • Compulsive exercise

  • Frequent trips to the lavatory

  • Grazed knuckles, marks of self-harm

  • Loss of normal periods (medical staff)

 

Eating Disorders: A Student’s Guide

 28-page comprehensive guide for those personally struggling, those worried about a friend or for those seeking a better understanding of eating disorders

 Practical and preventative advice and suggestions, including information on academic study, body image, exercise and nutrition (with balanced meal suggestions from ABC’s nutritional advisor)

 For more information, download the flyer

 “The ABC Student Guide has been an invaluable source of information for myself and the wellbeing staff at Bristol University, enabling us to best support the many students struggling with eating disorders. We are really looking forward to working with ABC on future student-led projects.”

Jemma Harford, Community Engagement Co-ordinator at Bristol University