Secret habits of anorexics revealed in new Louis Theroux documentary

One 63-year-old woman lives off boiled sweets

Olivia Petter
Sunday 29 October 2017 10:59 GMT
BBC/Karen Robinson
BBC/Karen Robinson (BBC/Karen Robinson)

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Louise Thomas

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A new documentary presented by Louis Theroux reveals the horrifying realities of living with anorexia.

In Louis Theroux: Talking To Anorexia, the TV presenter visits two of London’s biggest eating-disorder treatment facilities.

He meets with women of all ages suffering with anorexia, including one woman who refuses to sit down in order to burn more calories and another who does 2,000 star jumps a day to keep any extra weight off.

(BBC/Karen Robinson
(BBC/Karen Robinson (BBC/Karen Robinson)

Anorexics are often sent to in-patient clinics as part of their recovery, and due to the severity of their condition, many are there against their will.

Most will sleep there during the week and return home at weekends where they’re expected to stick to a rigid meal plan.

While the average duration is four months, many in-patients end up staying for one year.

Every meal is consumed under strict supervision, from breakfast to dinner, and the typical day also includes three allocated snacking periods.

The toilets are locked during mealtimes and for 30 minutes afterwards to ensure patients are keeping their food down.

However, even when the toilets are unlocked, those on strict one-to-one programs are not allowed to ever use them unaccompanied.

Ideally, most patients will gain half a kilo each week however, for the women featured in the program this seems to be an idealistic goal that many fail to meet.

The documentary gives viewers a unique insight into the mind of a person with anorexia, which the patients insist is widely misunderstood by the media.

“It’s not about being attractive,” explains Jess, whose dreams of being a teacher were stunted by her deteriorating condition.

(BBC/Karen Robinson
(BBC/Karen Robinson (BBC/Karen Robinson)

“The media portray this image that the ideal size is a size zero but it’s not about that at all.

“It’s partly a self-punishment thing and thinking that I don’t deserve to eat.”

Theroux meets one woman, Rosie, whose condition left her unable to walk at one point and led to her contemplating suicide.

Her parents reveal to Theroux that she spends hours scrolling through social media pictures of food on her phone.

Anorexia affects one in 250 women in the UK and that figure is constantly rising.

Louis Theroux: Talking To Anorexia airs on Sunday on BBC2 at 9pm.

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