As many as 65% of people with eating disorders say bullying has contributed to their condition, according to a new report by UK eating disorder charity, Beat. This is a 41% increase on a similar survey carried out by the same organisation in 2009.
The survey also found that 49% were less than 10 years old when the bullying started and many stated that the effects had stayed with them into their 40s and 50s.
Worryingly, only 22% actually received any help from someone to overcome their bullying.
Cathy, a 46 year old from Derbyshire, who was bullied from the age of 12 by a teacher as well as her peers, told the charity: “The bullying made me lose my once bubbly personality and my confidence and my self-esteem was at an all-time low. I was too frightened to go out and felt incredibly isolated. It was a traumatic experience as the bullies were once my best friends – I will never forget the feelings of despair and loneliness.”
Beat Chief Executive, Susan Ringwood, told The Huffington Post: “All bullying lowers self-esteem, and low self-esteem is proven to raise the risk of eating disorders. Bullying about size, weight and shape – the innocuous sounding ‘fat teasing’ – is particularly toxic. Size, weight and shape is the last personal domain where stigmatising behaviour goes unchallenged and where pejorative comments go unremarked.
“We are calling for fat teasing to become as socially unacceptable as negative comments about race, ethnicity, sexuality or religion.
All schools should have anti-bullying polices. They should apply them and play their part in making a generation of young people both more resilient and respectful.”