Stigma is a big threat to the recovery of individuals with eating disorders.  Below describes the impact  and what you can do to reduce stigma towards eating disorders/difficulties.


Reducing stigma

Stigma is a big threat to the recovery of persons with eating disorders.

Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people, so there is a high chance that you know someone who has or has had a mental health problem such as an eating disorder, anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol misuse or dementia.

Mental health problems can affect anyone and can cause more suffering and disability than any other type of health problem.

First Steps feel that addressing stigmas of eating disorder is important for two primary reasons:

  • Firstly, stigma can impact upon the person who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder to get worse.
  • Secondly, concerns about stigma may delay the seeking of and continuing in treatment.

It is important to help raise awareness of eating disorders, in order to help reduce the stigmas closely associated with them.



  • Examine your beliefs and prejudices about weight and appearance. Develop and communicate acceptance and respect for yourself and other people, regardless of weight. This will reduce some of the pressure people may feel to change their bodies.
  • Notice and draw self-esteem from your positive qualities, not only from the way you look.
  • Actively challenge cultural, media, peer, and social pressures to lose weight.
  • Discourage the idea that a particular diet or body size can reliably lead to happiness.
  • Demonstrate balance in eating. In moderation, all foods can be eaten and enjoyed.
  • Demonstrate balance in exercise. Exercise for fun, not weight loss.
  • Do not model or encourage dieting.
  • Accept and talk about the fact that diets don’t work and the dangers of altering one’s body through dieting.
  • If your health would benefit from weight loss, you can better achieve this through moderation in eating and exercising for fun.
  • Do not use food as a reward or punishment.
  • Do not label foods as good or bad.
  • Do not label eating habits as good or bad.
  • Know the warning signs of eating disorders.