It was brave of Lily Allen to admit recently that she has suffered from bulimia – and that, despite her being deeply unhappy, friends kept saying she looked great. This is a paradox about eating disorders: most sufferers aren’t skeletal extremes and many patients I see with these problems look relatively healthy. But they aren’t. Ultimately, if they do not get treatment, most will suffer from complications related to nutritional deficiencies, not to mention the mental distress that accompanies such obsessions.
At least one million Britons are affected by an eating disorder, according to estimates based on official diagnoses and charity surveys – but the true number could be higher, as so many of those with these illnesses never seek help. While doctors spend a large amount of time tackling those who are obese, those at the other end of the weight spectrum avoid the GP and go unnoticed – unless the problem becomes severe. It is more c