Former cricketer Freddie Flintoff has spoken out about his experiences with bulimia in a new BBC documentary, stating that he “probably should get help” and has had periods where he’s suffered from the condition “this year”.
In the documentary, Freddie Flintoff: Living with Bulimia – which airs next Monday September 28 on BBC One – Flintoff addresses the pressures of masculinity which he says made him feel like he “should be able to stop" the eating disorder, but also admits that there were times when he also “enjoyed the results” of the condition, according to the Daily Mail.
The TV presenter, who calls the condition a “hard thing to define or even admit”, has previously talked about suffering from bulimia from as early as 2001 when he joined England’s cricket team and felt the pressure to keep his weight down.
While the Top Gear presenter insists that he has a “coping mechanism” to avoid bulimic episodes, and that he does feel “in control”, he admits: “I probably should get help. I know it’s a problem and I know it needs addressing.”
An estimated 25 per cent of those affected by an eating disorder in the UK are male, according to eating disorder charity Beat, though the condition is most common in young women.
In the documentary, Flintoff meets other men suffering from the eating disorder, as well as the family of 24-year-old Laurence Nugent who died of a heart attack brought on by bulimia and anorexia in 2009.
“It’s that thing where you think it’s never going to happen to you,” he says. “I don’t want to be a statistic, I don’t want to be something that’s read about in years to come, that something’s happened to me.”
In the documentary Flintoff also outlines how the condition has impacted his relationship with his wife Rachael, as he admits that he has “lied a few times” to her about his eating disorder, and thinks that he hasn’t got help because “everything else is going so well now”.
“I have this new career as a television presenter, which I love; I have an amazing family who support me through everything,” he says.
“There is still a huge amount of stigma and misunderstanding that exists around bulimia,” Tom Quinn, a representative of the eating disorder charity, tells The Independent.
“We know that men and boys often feel the effects of this more strongly and often delay seeking treatment due to feelings of guilt or shame, when in fact anyone of any age, gender, race or background can be affected.”
To contact charity Beat for support regarding eating disorders, you can call the helpline on 0808 801 0677, the student line on 0808 801 0811 and the youth line on 0808 801 0711.
The helplines are open every day from 12pm to 8pm during the week and from 4pm to 8pm on weekends and bank holidays.