Mental health campaigner Hope Virgo is calling for the government to review the eating disorder guidance delivered by clinicians

The #DumpTheScales campaign asks the government to review eating disorder guidelines around weight and has gathered over 500 signatures in its first 24 hours. Campaigner and mental health advocate, Hope Virgo, is campaigning for signatures before the petition is sent to PM Theresa May, Matt Hancock, Caroline Dinenage, Stephen Barclay and Jackie Doyle-Price MP.

In the petition, Hope explains that eating disorders are not just about meeting a certain weight requirement or numbers on a scale. Hope tells Happiful, “The problem with eating disorders is that there still seems to be a huge focus on the physical aspect. People’s health and severity of illness so often gets judged on appearance and weight. It is upsetting that society still does that, and that individuals feel so fixated on labelling all people with eating disorders as having to be stick thin.

I relapsed in 2016 and even with the severity of my anorexia in the past, I was not eligible for care because I wasn’t ‘thin’ enough.”

Hope left the appointment feeling like a “fake” and a "hypocrite”. What followed were suicidal feelings and a realisation that if she wasn’t thin enough for treatment, she would have to manage her eating disorder on her own.

“Perhaps it would be okay if this was just my experience, but it isn’t. I get emails every few days from people who have been turned away from services because they aren’t in the weight criteria. It is upsetting and heartbreaking that this still happens. It leaves people feeling suicidal and like they have to prove their illness. It is time this was changed.”

Hope says that by the time obvious signs of eating disorders are present, the disorder could be in the stage where it may have become “ingrained in the person” and could be much more difficult to treat.

“If we want to prevent people getting more unwell, save the NHS money, prevent hospital admission and save lives, we need to have this review and ensure that we get full implementation of the clinical guidance around diagnosis. It’s time we stopped waiting for people to hit crisis point before offering them support. With 1.25 million people in the UK living with an eating disorder, we can’t afford to wait any longer - the time to act is now.”

Sign the petition to support the #DumpTheScales campaign.

Hope Virgo has written about her battle with anorexia in her book, Stand Tall Little Girl: Facing up to Anorexia.

If you are concerned that you, or a loved one, may have an eating disorder, counselling may help. To find a counsellor near you, visit Counselling Directory.