Louis Theroux on Anorexia in North London

25 October 2017

A documentary by Louis Theroux on Anorexia, filmed partly at our Eating Disorders Services in Northwick Park and Vincent Square, will be broadcast on BBC 2 on Sunday, 29 October at 9pm. The film looks at Anorexia with patients from Barnet, Enfield & Haringey NHS Trust and CNWL.

The BBC say:  “This film sees Louis Theroux embed himself in two of London’s biggest adult eating-disorder treatment facilities: St Ann’s Hospital and Vincent Square Clinic. He meets women of all ages and at various stages of their illness, accompanying them through an enforced daily routine of scheduled eating, weigh-ins and group therapy sessions.

“As he spends more time with patients both on and off the wards, he witnesses the dangerous power that anorexia holds over them, leaving some unsure about whether recovery is achievable or even wanted. And as Louis seeks to understand what lies behind this mysterious illness, he finds himself drawn into a complex relationship between the disorder and the person it inhabit.”

BBC programme information here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2017/44/louis-theroux-anorexia

CNWL’s Clinical Director for Eating Disorder Services, Dr Frances Connan, who is in the film, said: “Brave people showed Louis Theroux their Anorexia Nervosa and his film compassionately shows their struggles; what it’s like to live with this illness (for them and their families), and to engage in treatment and recovery.  

“We see it all; it’s not about food itself but the feelings of powerlessness and worthlessness that lie beneath. We see the tyranny of the illness. There are some tough moments, but we also see hopeful shoots of recovery. 

“The sooner someone with Anorexia Nervosa gets help and treatment, the better their chance of a full recovery. This is why we have expanded community based eating disorder services in North West London and Milton Keynes.

“This is a great film with great people battling one of the most deadly mental illnesses, in all its ugliness but with the love and hope that surrounds them.”

Claire Murdoch, Chief Executive of CNWL, said: “I’m so pleased that these patients and staff made this film with Louis Theroux. It shows ‘full-blown’ Anorexia and how everyone wrestles with this terrible illness. That highlights the need for early intervention and it is happening. There are 70 new specialist children and young people community eating disorder teams, covering all local areas in England. They are seeing urgent referrals within a week and non-urgent within four weeks in the vast majority of cases. This is a considerable achievement because early intervention works and Louis’s compassionate film shows why it is so necessary.”

Dr Fiona Butler, metal health clinical lead for the North West London Collaboration of CCGs said:  “New eating disorder services have opened in North London in the last year to improve access for people who need help. We are pleased this documentary highlights how vital the care is that these services provide.”

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Dr Frances Connan

Consultant Psychiatrist

Dr Frances Connan is Clinical Director for Vincent Square Eating Disorders Service