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‘Vital’ funding needed for Welsh eating disorder research, new report finds

Just £1.13 was spent on research per person with an eating disorder between 2009 and 2019, and most of this was awarded to institutions in London. Jo Whitfield, from the Wales office for the eating disorder charity Beat, tells us more.

These are key findings from a new report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on eating disorders, which was compiled by colleagues of mine at Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity.

The ‘Breaking the Cycle’ report follows the APPG’s inquiry in December 2020 to Spring 2021, which investigated eating disorder research funding and found that there is a vicious cycle of underfunding in the field.

This cycle of underfunding has helped stigmatising attitudes persist, including the perception that eating disorders are a less important area of study, and therefore resulting in little research.

The report makes recommendations to research funders, universities, the NHS and researchers, setting out how together they can break the cycle of underfunding.

This includes calling on the Welsh Government, for instance to commission research that addresses gaps in the evidence base highlighted by the Welsh Eating Disorder Service Review 2018.

two men speaking across a table

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that impact 1.25 million people at any time and their families in the UK.

At Beat, we know that quality research is crucial for understanding what causes eating disorders, how to best provide treatment, and ideally how to prevent them from developing.

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.

In June 2021, the number of people contacting Beat support services in Wales increased by 250%, in comparison to the previous year.

I’m particularly pleased to see the report highlight the Welsh Eating Disorder Service Review 2018, which brought together a range of evidence from NHS eating disorder services, treatments, NICE guidelines, people with lived experience and their families in order to make recommendations for change.

To support people with eating disorders in Wales, it is essential that progress towards the review continues, and that research is adequately funded to aid this progress.

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Find out more

If you would like to find out more about campaigning on this issue, please get in touch with Beat today:

If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s health, you can contact Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, 365 days a year on 0808 801 0677 or at

Jo Whitfield

Jo is the National Officer for Wales at Beat, the UK’s leading eating disorder charity.

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