A report investigating investment in eating disorder research in the UK was published this month (15 September).
The report, highlights how major advances are needed in our understanding of what causes eating disorders, how best to treat them and how to prevent them developing.
The 'Breaking the Cycle' report compiled by Beat - the eating disorder charity - on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eating Disorders sets out the findings and recommendations from the APPG's inquiry into research funding, conducted from December 2020 to Spring 2021.
The report makes recommendations for actions that research funders, universities, the NHS and researchers should take to break the cycle of underfunding in eating disorders research and achieve the much-needed advances in knowledge that research can deliver.
Beat’s Director of External Affairs, Tom Quinn, said:
"Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that impact 1.25 million people at any time and their families. Quality research is crucial for understanding what causes eating disorders, how to best to provide treatment, and ideally how to prevent them from developing. What has already been achieved with such little funding shows the great potential for UK researchers to achieve major breakthroughs, with the right financial support.
"The need for advances in research has become even more urgent during the COVID-19 pandemic, as referrals to eating disorder services and hospital admissions have continued to rise. At its peak, Beat support services experienced an over 300% increase in demand during in March 2021, in comparison to pre-pandemic levels.’
Becca Randell, Implementation Manager for Starting Well at NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Kent Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS), said:
"I am delighted that we have been able to make a valuable contribution to this report by working with Kent, Surrey and Sussex Eating Disorders Clinical Teams. We were able to share good practice across KSS with ministers which included local research programmes and in particular, the Sussex Partnership Innovation and Research in Eating Disorders (SPIRED) clinic which has now been highlighted as an example of good practice and a recommendation for other Trusts to follow.
"We hope that this report will help unlock the much-needed funding for eating disorder research across all areas of the UK."
Dr Helen Startup, Consultant Clinical Psychologist Lead for SPIRED, Sussex Partnership Innovations and Research in Eating Disorders, said:
“Individuals with eating disorders deserve the best care we can provide and this will come from greater investment in research, and in our clinical services. The SPIRED Research Clinic is all about a synergy between co-produced research and a passion to improve clinical care. We are most grateful to our Lived Experience Advisory Panel who are at the heart of everything we do.”