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Issue Date:- 23 June 2008

Children with eating disorders slipping through the net

CHILDREN and adolescents with eating disorders could be slipping through the net because of a serious lack of specialist dietitians, warns the British Dietetic Association (BDA), which is discussing the issue at their annual conference.

With around 1.1 million reportedly suffering from eating disorders in the UK, of which a very high percentage are young people, paediatric dieticians are being trained to cope with the increase in patients being referred to them. A recent study also found that 18% of school children who took part in 2 health surveys carried out a year apart admitted they had eating problems and that students who had ongoing eating problems were more likely to report multiple psychological problems and health complaints.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are most common amongst girls and young women generally developing between the ages of 15 and 25 years, although they can occur at any age, even as young as 7 or 8 years. Research shows that treatment initiated quickly after symptoms first become apparent prevents the disease becoming chronic in adulthood, when the condition has an extremely debilitating affect on sufferers and their families.

In some parts of the country, especially in Wales where to date there are no commissioned services for eating disorders and in the north of England there are currently no specialist dieticians and of those dieticians in post many are only funded on a part time basis. As a result, patients are either not getting any vital dietetic input, or non-specialist health professionals are managing them as best they can.

Delegates at the conference will be told that more specialist dieticians are desperately needed to improve the treatment of these patients. They will also advise general dieticians on the limitations they have in terms of time to spend with this demanding client group, multi-disciplinary working, risk management, family working and specialist training and experience.

Dieticians play a critical role with these patients and their families on food related issues and helping young people meet their nutritional needs, thus enabling other health professionals in child and adolescent mental health and eating disorder services to work on the underlying issues of the disorder.

Speaking at the Conference, Claire Mellors, an eating disorders specialist dietician based in Nottingham, said:- “Eating disorders are a psychiatric illness that mostly starts in adolescents. This is especially true of the low weight eating disorders which have an average age at onset of the disease of 15 years. So it is important that professionals working in this field are experienced, trained and supervised well.  While the importance of specialist dietitians in the area is well recognised at policy level it is not filtering down and being implemented via funding, support and recognition of these specific dietetic posts which are fundamental to the treatment of children with eating disorders. “

Media enquiries to The British Dietetic Association should be directed to our media hotline on 0870 580 2517 or

Europe signs up to a Constitution

EUROPEAN beer drinkers have reached agreement where national governments have failed. The national beer consumer groups from 13 countries will meet on 24 June to sign the European Beer Consumers Union’s (EBCU) 1st constitution.

The chairs of the current 13 national member organisations will sign the Constitution of EBCU which encapsulates the aims and objectives of the federation which represents over 130,000 beer drinkers across Europe at the Brewers of Europe House, in Brussels. 

The European Beer Consumers Union (EBCU) will also be celebrating 18 years of existence having been founded in Bruges in 1990.  Whilst consolidation amongst the world’s brewers continues, and global beer brands dominate the market; Europe’s beer consumers are working hard to ensure that there will still be a wide choice of craft brewed beers available for future generations.

“In a climate where the big brewers continue to get bigger and bigger and lose all contact with their original routes, axing local beer brands and closing breweries it is essential that the beer drinkers of Europe stand up for local quality beer and fight to protect and promote Europe’s beer heritage. The latest proposed mega-merger, between InBev and Anheuser-Busch will, if it succeeds, create a brewer with almost 25% share of the world beer market. How many more local beer brands will be lost whilst this new brewing giant concentrates on promoting its global beer brands?” said Terry Lock, chairman of EBCU. 

“It is essential that Europe’s Beer drinkers come together to fight the threats posed by globalisation in beer market. The member organisations of EBCU have shown that beer drinkers can reach agreement to enable the consumer’s voice to be heard more clearly in the corridors of Brussels and Strasbourg. Perhaps a pint or 2 of quality craft produced beer could aid national governments to come to a similar accord” continued Lock.

Working together the 13 national beer consumer organisations lobby strongly on issues that concern the beer drinker and pub goer.

EBCU’s objectives are:-

* The promotion of Europe’s beer culture
* The promotion of traditional beer styles
* The promotion of diversity and consumer choice
* To enhance the image of beer
* To represent the interests of consumers

EBCU’s priorities are:-

* Competition and Choice in the European Beer Market
* Taxation
* Empowering the Consumer

In the years since EBCU was founded there has been a renaissance of brewing in many countries of Europe, samples from some of these will be available to toast EBCU’s 18th Birthday at the Brewers of Europe House on 24 June.

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