Harper Supports Eating Disorders Awareness Week

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper spoke in a debate last week in the Scottish Parliament to support people living with an eating disorder. Ms Harper has previously lead the debate for the past two years and has hosted the Scottish Eating Disorders Interest Group (SEDIG) in the Scottish Parliament.

The theme of Eating Disorders Awareness Week this year is ‘Binge Eating’ and the South Scotland MSP also took the opportunity to highlight an additional eating disorder called Diabulimia which occurs when people with Type1 Diabetes deliberately stop taking their insulin to lose weight. She congratulated Diabetes Scotland on their work on this and encouraged anyone interested to have a look at Diabetes Scotland’s advice and support information. Ms Harper also used the debate to ask the Government to ensure Its new policy relating to eating disorders, due to be published in the coming weeks, ensures that Rural Scotland is considered and not left behind or forgotten.

In her contribution, Ms Harper highlighted that between 1.25 and 3.4 million people across the UK are currently living with an eating disorder, such as Anorexia, Bulimia and Diabulimia with numbers on the increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The restrictions have posed challenges for the delivery of treatment services and for people at risk because of the additional stress which the pandemic has posed, such as a loss of income, changes to social interactions or other associated stresses.

Ms Harper, herself a Type 1 diabetic, commented;

Eating Disorders can affect anyone at any stage of life and it is important that people are aware that support is available and that people, including young women and young men, don’t have to feel ashamed to access help or to speak about eating disorders or other mental health issues and I want to see the surrounding stigma broken down.
“For the past 2 years, I have lead this debate and I previously hosted the Scottish Eating Disorders Interest Group (SEDIG) in the Parliament. I took the opportunity to specifically highlight the issue of Diabulimia and the support which is available from Diabetes Scotland for this. I also touched on Social Media and how research – including from the University of the West of Scotland – shows the link between social media use and developing eating disorders due to adverts for dieting and weight shaming. I would encourage all to be aware of this.
In the debate, I specifically asked the Minister to ensure that Rural Scotland has equal access to eating disorder services in the new eating disorder policy which the Government is bringing forward in the coming weeks. I’d like to congratulate NHSD&G Dietetic team as I understand they have been specifically working with those living with, and at risk of developing, diabulimia and other eating disorders. I was interested to hear that, because of the rurality of Dumfries and Galloway, some people who are at risk may not be picked up as easily or may be reluctant to access support because of the travel involved in attending appointments. This highlights why it’s so important to ensure that the right support is available across the whole of Scotland.
“The pandemic has been tough for everyone and has presented many financial, social and other challenges for people right across Scotland. I therefore encourage people to contact their GP or to get in touch with groups such as BEAT or SEDIG if they have any concerns about themselves or a loved one.”

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