News 14 August

XenZone data reveals spike in body image and eating difficulties as Government launch new anti-obesity campaign

· XenZone data shows shows children and young people (CYPs) presenting with issues around body image (+61.5%) and eating difficulties (+58.6%) have surged under lockdown
· Concerns over body image and eating difficulties have also spiked amongst adult population
· Dr. Lynne Green, XenZone’s Chief Clinical Officer: “Whilst any efforts to tackle eating difficulties should indeed be commended, those efforts will be at best ineffective and at worst dangerous”

London, UK, August 13th 2020 – Recent data released by XenZone, the UK’s largest online digital mental health provider, reveals a sharp spike in the number of CYPs and adults seeking help online for body image and eating difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

XenZone’s data found that CYPs presenting with body image concerns has increased by 61.5%, compared with the same time last year. There has been a 58.6% increase in the number of CYP’s presenting with eating difficulties. Amongst the adult population, there has been a 25% increase in the number of adults presenting with body image concerns. Almost 9% of all adult service users are now presenting with issues around eating difficulties.

The spike in eating difficulties/body image concerns coincides with Public Health England’s national anti-obesity strategy which includes displaying calorie counts on restaurant and takeaway menus, banning junk food ads after 9:00pm and ending ‘buy-one-get-one-free discounts’’ on foods considered high in fat and sugar.

According to Dr. Lynne Green, Clinical Director, XenZone:: “The new focus on tackling obesity, for example by labelling calorie counts in restaurants and on ‘unhealthy’ snacks within supermarkets is surely missing a vital point.

In addition to growing evidence of potential links between obesity and an increased risk from COVID-19, there is strong evidence that eating disorders have increased since the pandemic. In fact the two are not mutually exclusive; disordered eating comes in many forms from extreme restriction to binge eating (and often a combination of the two).”

Central to recovery, is the removal of guilt associated with eating and the normalisation of eating a range of foods; the notion of healthy versus unhealthy and shaming people into avoiding certain foods is extremely unhelpful in this regard. “

We know that Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder. Whilst any efforts to tackle eating difficulties should indeed be commended, those efforts will be at best ineffective and at worst dangerous, without the consideration of the wider impact.”


About XenZone

We are the UK’s leading online mental health platform. Our mission is to provide accessible and safe spaces for everyone to achieve better mental health. Our online platform is clinically robust and accredited to provide a range of therapeutic support and interventions. All our services are predicated on easy access to make early intervention and prevention a reality.
Our three services are:

  • Kooth: for children and young persons
  • Kooth Student: for university students
  • Qwell: for adults

Kooth is commissioned in 85% of the NHS’s clinical commissioning group areas across the country. It is a fully safeguarded and pre-moderated community with a library of peer and professional created content, alongside access to experienced online counsellors. There are no thresholds for support and no waiting lists. Currently, Kooth sees over 4,000 logins a day.
Kooth Student is aimed at university students and is commissioned by three UK universities.

Qwell operates across distinct locations and serves specific cohorts, including parents, teachers, victims of crime and those who have suffered from or continue to experience domestic violence. It is also offered as a benefit by a number of corporate organisations delivering anonymous digital mental health support services to employees.

XenZone was established in 2001. For more information: