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Psychological issues around emotional overeating not addressed by healthcare professionals


Misunderstanding, lack of help and stigma affect people with emotional overeating issues finds a survey by Beat – the UK’s leading eating disorder charity, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Over 1,000 people across the UK responded to the survey and the findings were significant:

  • 88% said their problems with food were related to emotional problems
  • 73% who visited their GP practice said their emotional health wasn’t investigated
  • 92% said they’d like to lose weight
  • 76% felt their self esteem was low
  • 85% had a negative body image of themselves
  • 79% felt under pressure from society to lose weight
  • 53% suffered from depression.

Dr Andrew Hill, professor of medical psychology at Leeds University, said: ‘Emotions, mainly negative emotions, play a major role in unwanted and uncontrolled eating.  Unhelpful relationships between food, eating, and mood can be longstanding and very difficult to change. Lifting the stigma of mental health is one of the challenges for our time.  Understanding the role of food and eating in emotional health is part of this challenge, as is making opportunities for access to the varieties of helpful support available.’

Funded by the Department of Health, Beat has emotional overeating support groups across the Midlands and the east of England. The groups, facilitated by trained Beat volunteers provide an open and non-judgmental space for peer support between adults who either binge eat, compulsively overeat, feel they have emotional eating issues or are overweight, obese or struggling with their weight.

The charity is also launching online support groups on the 9 July at:

For further information contact the Beat press office on: 0300 123 7061 or email

Picture: epsos D @flickr

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