MSP supports awareness of eating disorders
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has taken part in a debate at Holyrood to raise awareness of eating disorders.
It was led by SNP MSP Clare Haughey to mark Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Parliament.
In his speech, Mr Stevenson paid tribute to Aberdeenshire Councillor Dennis Robertson – a former MSP – who spoke passionately in previous years about his daughter’s battle with an eating disorder.
Mr Stevenson said it was time to change the way in which society viewed and responded to people suffering from eating disorders.
It comes after it was revealed it takes an average of 149 weeks before a person experiencing symptoms seeks help.
Figures have shown an estimated 34% of adults in the UK cannot identify signs of an eating disorder, while 79% do not know that there are psychological symptoms associated with such disorders.
Mr Stevenson added: “I want to talk a little about social factors. I am disturbed - I do not know whether others will be—by the fact that Weight Watchers has started offering free six-week memberships to children as young as 13.
“I am sure that it has reasons for doing so and that part of what it will say is that it is fighting childhood obesity and other health complications.
“However, offering that kind of illusory opportunity to people who are potentially vulnerable emotionally and whose body shape is likely to be rapidly changing is not something that I feel comfortable to support.”
Commenting after the debate, Stewart Stevenson MSP said: “Eating disorders come in many forms and it is important we raise awareness of the many challenges faced not only by patients but their family and friends who may not be aware of the extent of the issue.
“I was in Parliament when my colleague Dennis Robertson previously spoke about his daughter’s own tragic fight with anorexia and it hit home then what a struggle it is.
“With the rise in social media and the pressures young people face for the perfect image we must highlight the risk to vulnerable teens who feel they have to look a certain way.”