A common misconception regarding the reasons why people develop anorexia nervosa and bulimia during their life could be stopping some individuals from seeking the right treatment and their families from noticing the potentially life-threatening issue.
The common belief upon discovering someone has an eating disorder is that they are attempting to become as skinny as possible in order to compete with models and actresses who fill the pages of tabloid newspapers.
Although this may be true in some cases, it is this stereotype that could result in thousands of sufferers hiding their issues with food from friends and family members for even longer, making it more difficult to resolve.
When reading more deeply into the causes of eating disorders, it is easy to see that the mental illnesses are usually considered to be about control and perfectionism, which are traits a high number of patients are attempting to gain.
Georgina Routen, 20, from Northamptonshire is one of many young women whose obsession with getting a handle on her everyday life resulted in her weight plummeting to dangerous levels and requiring professional treatment.
Speaking to the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, the young lady - who was affected by anorexia from the age of 14 - said it was not until she sought help from the Beat charity that she realised she was not alone.
She said: "I was always a perfectionist … And that seems to be a trait that many people who have eating disorders have. I felt subconsiously that I wasn’t good enough compared to the people around me. Now I realise it was twisted, but I felt I could be good at being really thin."
Ms Routen revealed to the newspaper what started out as a desire to consume five portions of fruit and vegetables every day soon spiralled out of control and resulted in her performing certain tasks at particular times of day in order to maintain a regimented lifestyle.
Now a young ambassador for the eating disorder charity, the former patient said there is often a belief that developing anorexia and bulimia is about looking a certain way.
She added: "It definitely crept up on me, it wasn’t, to begin with, about looking thin, I wasn’t even on a diet. I did not need to lose weight, I had a slender build anyway. It was just about being in control."
While there are many potential causes that can trigger the start of an eating disorder, there is little to determine exactly why some individuals are affected and others are not - but many experts argue a particular event in a person's life can represent the starting point.
BBC Health notes that while there is limited evidence to suggest the illnesses can run in families, it is unclear whether or not those who are raised around someone with anorexia nervosa or bulimia are more likely to develop the conditions themselves.
Other factors that are thought to contribute to the start of an eating disorder could include anxiety for some control, a distorted body image, low self-esteem and an expression of deep emotions such as depression that a person struggles to communicate into words.