Anorexia on the rise in Wigan

Bethany Miller with her mum Dawn at the Helping Hands Centre, Ince
Bethany Miller with her mum Dawn at the Helping Hands Centre, Ince

ONE in 150 teenage girls is suffering from anorexia in Wigan, and referrals are on the increase, it has been revealed.

But health bosses say they are fighting back against what can be a fatal condition.

The town is one of only two in the North West offering NHS help to sufferers.

Dr Sandeep Ranote, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist and associate medical director of research for the 5 Boroughs Partnership trust, said: “We have received between 20 and 25 referrals this year, which is a lot.

“In five years, we have dealt with around 100 families in the area, and in one two-week period this year, we had seven different referrals.

“But we have good schemes to tackle the problem, and we are one of only two in the North West that offer guidance on the NHS.”

The problem has been publicised nationally with supermodels and the rise of celebrity culture believed to be putting added pressure on young girls to be even slimmer.

And the problem has been no different in Wigan, but there are also other factors.

Bethany Miller, 16, from Lowton, was diagnosed with anorexia two years ago, after comments were made at school about her appearance.

Her mother Dawn, 41, today spoke out about her family’s anguish.

She said: “It took six weeks for me to first notice. She would be in her room doing about 150 sit-ups a night, and her weight plummeted – she lost five stone in three months. People had even been asking if she had cancer.

“That’s when we acted, and were granted an emergency referral to Leigh Hospital. Bethany’s body was shutting down, and she was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.”

But with the help of dedicated health staff, Bethany is on her way to recovery, and is looking forward to sitting her GCSEs, before hopefully heading to Winstanley College.

Mrs Miller added: “If it wasn’t for the help of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Bethany probably wouldn’t be here.

“Bethany’s not out of the woods yet, but is well on her way. She’s beautiful, and we are so proud of her progress.”

Along with other families, Dawn and Bethany attend regular coffee mornings at the clinic on Manchester Road, Ince, where they discuss problems and help each other through certain situations.

Dr Ranote also attends the meetings, and says they are a fantastic way of helping families.

She added: “What people don’t always realise is that the condition affects the whole family, not just the sufferer.

“I’m really proud of the services we offer in Wigan.”