Tuesday 27 October 2020

Public Health, Not Public Shaming - A Campaign by Beat

Beat is the UK's leading charity that supports those with eating disorders and those that support them such as family and friends as well as professionals.

Beat's new campaign 'Public Health, Not Public Shaming' is around the new governments announcement in a plan to encourage weight loss. Now whilst this is a good thing to help get the public more healthy and making better decisions about their health which will improve health and wellbeing. It will also in turn ease the strain unhealthy lifestyles have on the NHS.

The new measures laid out by the government include introducing a weight loss app and also increasing the publication of calorie labelling in places such as cafés, restaurants and takeaways and fast-food outlets. Whilst this is good, what I feel is missing is the public education of what is a "healthy" amount of calories to consume when browsing the menu - a bit like how the traffic light system works on food labels with green being a healthy amount of calories and red being a high amount of calories in that portion so people will understand and consider consumption of that particular food item.

What I also feel is also missing is the consideration of the many people in UK who are living with and trying to remain in recovery from an eating disorder.

I've written here on my blog before about my own experience of anorexia and now even though I am in a well state of recovery from my eating disorder even I can struggle at times. Eating out can still be a stressful situation for me and faced with the numbers [calories] on the menu it may possibly leave me feeling rather flustered when choosing what to eat.

Now I'm in a much better place to manage my eating disorder but if I where to take myself back 10 years I found eating publicly challenging enough without being faced by calories on the menu even when looking at my list of safe go-to foods and knowing that there where apps for weight loss defiantly would trigger my spiral downwards aiding my anorexia.

Previous Government anti-obesity campaigns have been ineffective in reducing obesity. However they have increased stigma, and have put those vulnerable to developing an eating disorder or those currently experiencing an eating disorder at risk. 
As one eating disorder sufferer highlighted: “My eating disorder makes me, and many others, susceptible to taking these messages to the extreme.” 
Beat recognises the importance of reducing obesity, but it is vital that the public are not shamed into losing weight in an attempt to solve this problem.. - Beat


Since starting to write this blog post there has been n update from Beat in regards to the Public Health England's planned weight loss app.
"Public Health England have now taken steps to update the app to help ensure that people with eating disorders and people who may be vulnerable to eating disorders do not use the app." - Beat

The flaws with the app are still that those under 18 and those underweight could still use the app and knowing from my own experience of having anorexia you become a great deceiver and when there is a will there is a way. So on the app you could possibly falsify your age or BMI/weight to still be able to use the app and even if you are stopped from using that app there are probably many other apps that can be used in its place.

Help for Eating Disorders

If you or someone you care about are concerned bout eating disorders, (and remember you don't have to be underweight to struggle with one) you can always initially speak with your GP or contact Beat.and look at their resources on ther website to better understand eating disorders, the different types of eating disorders and spotting the signs that someone my have an eating disorder. Beat's website can be found here.

Beat also have a helpline

📞 Helpline - 0808 801 0677
📞 Studentline - 0808 801 0811
📞 Youthline - 0808 801 0711

The helplines are open every day of the year 
9am - 8pm during the week 
4pm -8pm at the weekend and on bank holidays

→ Calls to this helpline are free from landlines and mobile phones within the UK and do not appear on itemised bills

There is also a 1:1 web chat if you are unable to get through on the phone.

Alternatively you can email

Adult support email inc concerned adults/parents or professionals e.g. school staff

Student line

Under 18's Youthline

💻 fyp@beateatingdisorders.org.uk 

Purple background with the Beat orange, purple, red, turquoise logo and below in turquoise text is the hashtag Public Health not Public Shaming