In order to receive an eating disorder diagnosis in the UK you need to be assessed by a trained professional and meet certain criteria. I’ve talked about this in a previous blog post. In that post, I examined the three more common eating disorders.
For Anorexia Nervosa, one of the criteria for this eating disorder diagnosis is that the person’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is below a certain level. In this post I want to explain why I think it’s inappropriate to use BMI as one of the criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis.
Eating disorders are a mental health condition
I think it’s pretty widely accepted now that eating disorders are a mental health condition, as opposed to someone “wanting to be thinner”. There’s a lot more going on.
In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among psychiatric disorders.
This is why I question why someone’s weight to height ratio is a factor included within an eating disorder diagnosis such as Anorexia Nervosa.
Here is a good example of someone who wasn’t listened to, all because of her BMI.
Now, I understand that if someone is measured by their BMI as being extremely overweight or underweight, this may mean they need inpatient treatment.
However, when someone’s weight falls within an average range it seems as though the possibility of them having an eating disorder is discounted totally.
I think professionals and the general public alike need to be more aware.
My suspicion is that there are many people out there who have an ‘average’ height to weight ratio who have disordered eating and are suffering in silence.
This means that many people not receiving support for their difficulties with food. People need to look beyond what’s on the surface and find out what’s going on underneath.
If you do go to see a medical professional and they dismiss the possibility of you having an eating disorder, I’d recommend seeking a second opinion, and a third if need be.
Your health is worth fighting for and you deserve to be heard. Be as open and honest as you can be about what you’re experiencing. This means the professional has as much information as possible on which to base their decision about the next steps.