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Desperate (anorexic) Housewives in the UK

December 19th, 2005

The television program “Desperate Housewives” has become popular in the UK as well as here in the US, and is the lead subject in an article in this weekend’s Daily Mail on increasing rates of eating disorders among British adult women:

Dr Chris Freeman, consultant psychiatrist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, said recently: “Desperate Housewives is a popular programme showing older women who are attractive and have rampant love lives. I believe it is influencing women to have eating disorders.” Some clinics have reported a fourfold rise in the number of women aged 30 to 50 seeking treatment for anorexia.

The article points out a number of successful, active, professional women who are suffering from eating disorders, saying “it is, after all a, a smart women’s illness.”

“I know a brilliant paediatrician,” says Leslie, a 45 year old barrister from London. “She can nurse a canapé for a half an hour. She always accepts the food gladly, but you notice that she never actually eats it. The only thing I have ever seen her actually swallow is poached sea bass. She weighs about seven stone but still travels the world lecturing.”

Leslie’s former best friend Kate is also both anorexic and bulimic. They no longer speak. “The point is she thinks she looks beautiful. She has a closet full of designer clothes. But she weighs five-and-a-half stone and has lost all of her teeth.”

Others briefly profiled in the article include a television producer and a museum curator, who live otherwise succesful lives while wrestling with anorexic, binge eating, and bulimia.

Note: one stone = 14 pounds, so 7 stone = 98 pounds, and 5.5 stone = 77 pounds.


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