Between 2.3 million and 10.8 million individuals struggle with eating disorders in the UK and over 60% of 17-23 year olds have a possible eating problem. A staggering 98% have never received specialist NHS care. In recent years, adult community referrals have risen 19% and hospital admissions rose 500%.
Eating disorders infiltrate every aspect of an individual’s life, disrupting social connections, life goals and long-term health. They have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. An estimated £1.7 billion is spent annually on healthcare for anorexia and bulimia alone and the total annual cost to the UK economy is £11.2 billion.
Beanbag Health’s digital app supports lifelong recovery from eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Through our app users work through an evidence-based and NICE recommended treatment programme including content, exercises and self-monitoring tools. But the full power of the app comes with the human connection it enables to help the user stick with it. Loved ones are fully involved in the programme, getting updates on a user’s progress, and receiving educational content and their own support. A moderated peer community provides validation and practical advice from others who have been on the same journey. And for those who need it, a trained coach is also available.
Our app incorporates Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Eating Disorders (CBT-ED). CBT-ED achieves good outcomes in 60-75% of patients, defined as BMI >19.5 and no abnormal eating or compensatory behaviours at 12 months follow-up. CBT-ED is also effective after discharge from inpatient settings, achieving 70% good outcomes compared to <5% for patients who received no follow-on treatment.
Through our behaviour change and relapse prevention support we also hope to reduce current 40-60% drop out rates and 60% relapse rates within 24 months.
Our app is more scaleable than offline services allowing to reach a large number of patients, without imposing high thresholds. One in four GPs say that 60%-100% of referrals for eating disorders and addictions are rejected by CAMHS.
We expect to significantly undercut existing costs of treatment, which are around £3,000/month for outpatient support and £96,000 for inpatient treatment. This has the potential to significantly reduce the cost pressures in relation to the £1.7 billion spent annually on anorexia and bulimia alone, and generate savings in relation to the £11.2 billion cost the UK economy.