The Government has no official record of how many people in the UK suffer from anorexia or bulimia, a leading eating disorder charity says.

Estimates suggest one million people in Britain suffer from an eating disorder, but despite the fact they claim more lives than any other mental illness, official figures only show the number of people admitted to hospital.

The charity Beat says hospital admissions only account for the most serious eating disorder cases and people who visit a GP about their condition should also be included in the figures, to provide a better picture of the problem.

The Health Department said: "Establishing an accurate count of sufferers would involve an extensive door-to-door survey. Even that would be prone to error as so many disorders are hidden and denied."