Stigmas still surround eating disorders

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INFORMATIVE: Lesley Cook speaks at forum in Bendigo on Thursday. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

INFORMATIVE: Lesley Cook speaks at forum in Bendigo on Thursday. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

SOCIAL stigmas around eating disorders are stopping people from getting help, says National Eating Disorders Collaboration director Christine Morgan.

"There is still an incredible stigma about coming forward - particularly, for an illness such as bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder, where people may feel it's just something they have to find some willpower to get over - which is just not the case," Ms Morgan said.

"It is a very serious, psychological disorder.

"Also, particularly in a rural or regional area, they may feel if they come forward then others will get to know about it.

"There's also an aspect of the eating disorder, an illness itself, which is a coping mechanism so they don't want to necessarily get better.

"So part of the recovery from an eating disorder is engaging in wanting to get help and wanting to move through it and into recovery."

Ms Morgan is also Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders chief executive and said statistics showed the prevalence of eating disorders was underecognised within the community.

"The Butterfly Foundation commissioned a socioeconomic impact report at the back end of 2012," she said.

"Based on conservative figures, they estimated over 913,000 Australians had an eating disorder in 2012 ... but the interesting thing is at any given point only about 23 per cent of those who have an eating disorder will be actively engaged in treatment."

The National Eating Disorders Collaboration hosted a community consultation and training forum in Bendigo on Thursday.

"What we're looking to do for eating disorders - which has many gaps in what is needed - is to bring some professional training opportunities to Bendigo," Ms Morgan said on Thursday.

"This will be professional training for people who are coming across people with eating disorders in their workplace and it will provide information about how they can best treat them."

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