YOUNG VOICES

Meet The Teen Bingers Eating Themselves Into An Early Grave

11/12/2015 16:46 GMT | Updated 15/12/2015 14:59 GMT

Devastated parents of a woman who died at the age of 20 weighing 40 stone are hoping to save other teenagers from the same fate.

Malcolm Packham, 44, and Jan Cowan, 49, lost their daughter in July when her heart gave out following a battle with Binge Eating Disorder.

Malcolm and Jan first realised that Samantha had an eating disorder at the age of 8, and struggled to control her eating habits. They now hope that they can help other teenagers suffering with Samantha, so their parents don't have to suffer in the same way.

binge eating

Jan and Malcolm share their grief at losing daughter Samantha to Binge Eating Disorder on Channel 5 show Danger: Teen Binging

Danger: Teen Bingers, broadcast Monday 7 December on Channel 5, sees Malcolm and Jan travel to Chesterfield to meet Holly, 14, who weighs 17 stone.

Holly confided to Jan that she doesn’t like going out in public because she’s embarrassed of her size.

She said: "My biggest fear is not being able to do anything, not losing any weight, staying the way I am and not getting a job and just being lonely for the rest of my life.

"I feel like sometimes I sit in my room and cry and I feel like I can't do it anymore.”

She hasn’t been to school in months and evades her parents’ questions about her weight gain.

Holly’s story struck a chord with Jan.

She said: "These are all the feelings Sam had. At her funeral there were hundreds of people and they were all crying.

"Sam told me she didn't feel loved but if she had been in that church she would have known how much people loved her.”

During the show, Malcolm and Jan also spoke of their struggles to control their daughter Samantha’s eating habits.

Jan said: "We tried scaring her and saying 'one day this could kill you' but she said 'you are exaggerating, it wouldn't come to that, I'm not that big'."

Two weeks after Malcolm and Jan's visit, Holly had already shed a third of a stone and is receiving advice from medical professionals.

Binge Eating Disorder was only formally recognised in 1992 and eating disorder charity Beat say that binge eating affects far more people than is realised.

A recent study by UCL and King's College London found that of the 7.5% of people in South London with an eating disorder, 3.6% suffered from binge eating disorder, which is higher than the estimated prevalence of anorexia and bulimia combined.

Mary George, spokeswoman for Beat, added: “More people are coming forward for treatment for eating disorders. It is concerning that we are seeing younger people affected.

“It’s important for people to understand that there are generally emotional issues underlying these illnesses and should be highlighted in order to understand their complexity.

“It is difficult to recognise someone who is a binge eater. They may still eat in a very ‘normal’ way around family and friends, at home and in social settings because their bingeing would be done in secret.”

A Channel 5 spokesperson said: “The programme explores the subject of obesity in children with the aim of raising awareness of this important issue.”

MORE: