Hundreds of troops are fighting serious eating disorders.

Ninety-seven men and 173 women have been diagnosed with bulimia, anorexia and similar issues since 2017.

Of those, seven men and 20 women were axed because they were too weak to carry out their duties.

All developed the illnesses while serving in the forces.

Recruits with eating disorders or who may have previously had them are usually automatically barred from joining up.

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Nearly 2% of soldiers are affected by disorders
Nearly 2% of soldiers are affected by disorders

If untreated, conditions can lead to serious illness and can even be fatal.

Tom Quinn, of the charity Beat, said: “Eating disorders are serious ­mental illnesses with ­complex causes. They can ­affect anyone of any age, race, gender or background.

“Of the 1.25 million people in the UK affected by an eating disorder, a quarter are thought to be male.”

The figures, released as part of a Freedom of Information request, show eating disorders affect around 0.2% of our 150,000 service personnel.

That compares to around 1.92% of the civilian population.

The Ministry of Defence’s annual report into mental health revealed that more than one in eight members of the armed forces were seen for a psychiatric condition in 2019/20.

One Army captain told the Sunday People how she developed bulimia while training at Sandhurst military academy.

The 29-year-old said: “When I arrived I was slightly overweight and not particularly fit.

Tom Quinn is Beat’s Director of External Affairs
Tom Quinn is Beat’s Director of External Affairs

“I struggled with the physical aspects of the course. I began to get stressed and comfort eat. I would always have food in my room and binge on ­chocolate and sweets, and at meal times I’d ­sometimes have a second pudding.

“I would return to my room and feel disgusted with myself and make myself sick. By the time I left Sandhurst I was probably bulimic.

“My weight began to drop and people actually commented on how good I looked and then I became very thin.

“It came to a head when I saw the medical officer about an unrelated matter
and he asked me if I had an eating disorder.

“I was so shocked I said ‘yes’ and he arranged for me to see a specialist.

“It was made clear to me in the nicest possible way that if my condition ­deteriorated I could potentially be medically discharged.”

The Sunday People’s Save Our Soldiers campaign is fighting for more help for those with mental issues.

The MoD said: “Personnel with ­eating disorders are offered a broad range of support and treatment. This ranges from self-guided resources to specialist psychotherapy.”