A report commissioned by eating disorder charity BEAT and produced by auditors Price Waterhouse Coopers has been released to raise awareness of the personal and economic costs of eating disorders.
The study, commissioned by the eating disorder charity Beat, found that the average annual cost of treating someone with an eating disorder is £8900 and that this can rise as the eating disorder progresses.
Susan Ringwood, chief executive of Beat: 'We know the massive impact that an eating disorder has on anyone affected, and their friends and family too. The toll in terms of physical health and mental wellbeing; the effects on education and employment; on opportunities lost and to live life to the full are so sadly familiar to us. We also know you can't put a price worth paying on a life. Healthy lives are priceless, and each of us is uniquely valuable. Eating disorders are a treatable condition and recovery is possible. We want everyone to know just how much it costs if we are not all up to speed on the need to act quickly.'
The report also examined loss of income and found that the cost of time away from work and education is £9,500 per annum for sufferers aged 20 and above and £5,900 for carers on average. There is also a long-term impact on earnings well beyond the initial average six-year cycle of treatment.
Janet Treasure, professor of psychiatry at Kings College London: 'Eating disorders have a protracted trajectory, lasting seven years on average for anorexia nervosa and 12 years for bulimia nervosa). Over 50% of cases develop a severe enduring stage of illness. Increased awareness, recognition and treatment are essential to limit the immense personal, family and service costs of the enduring stages of illness.'
This week is eating disorder awareness week, which will run until Sunday Mar 1.