England cricket legend Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff's decision to speak up about his bulimia battle will change lives, a fellow sufferer has said.

The Top Gear star, 42, has starred in the new BBC One documentary Freddie Flintoff: Living With Bulimia.

The presenter raises critical awareness for the eating disorder and also discuss his own struggles with the illness.

In the documentary, Freddie lays bare how his battle first began when focus was put on his weight during the early part of his international playing career.

The star has been praised as a 'wonderfully brave man' for his decision to open up.

Experts estimate at least 1.5 million people in the UK have an eating disorder.

Freddie's decision to talk will make thousands feel they aren't alone

Over 25 per cent of those people are men, research says.

James Downs has been one of those to take a keen interest and he told the BBC's Newsbeat exactly how much good it could do.

"The more invisible things are, the less likely you are to share things," James explained.

"I did actually have to stop it a couple of times, because the things that Freddie was saying were really close to my own experience.

He says the focus put on his weight during the early part of his international playing career began his struggle
James Downs describes his battle with bulimia as "an isolating experience"

"It's quite hard to come forward and ask for help, and by the time you get that help, it can be harder to deal with.

"Freddie's documentary will lift the lid on the problem.

"Being a man with an eating disorder can be especially isolating and lonely, because you don't hear or see other people like you talking about experiences you're going through.

His decision to film for the BBC has been widely praised

"So when somebody who's really high-profile does come out and talk about it, it's a sense of relief."

The star said he "felt like everybody was looking at me" when he first started to noticed he had a problem.

The television personality also admitted that he fears audience reaction to the  documentary as he visited a clinic specialising in eating disorders and spoke with a fellow sufferer named Jamie.

He wants those suffering to get help

"I don't know how I'm going to deal with that," said Freddie.

"I don't like being vulnerable."

Freddie Flintoff: Living With Bulimia aired on BBC One but is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.

If you have been affected by the content of the documentary and wish to seek advice on eating disorders, visit charity website  Beat Eating Disorders  or call their helpline on  0808 801 0677.