Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey & Southampton North, has asked sufferers and recovering sufferers of Anorexia Nervosa, including fellow MPs, to donate their DNA to a global research project aimed at finding a cure for Anorexia Nervosa, possibly the most lethal mental health issue someone can suffer.
Caroline has used the last four years in Parliament to highlight the link between poor body image and eating disorders, working closely with eating disorders charity B-eat, and is now seeking to highlight the genetic link between anorexia sufferers, by supporting the ‘Charlotte’s Helix’ research project. The project aims to gather the DNA of 1,000 anorexia sufferers in the UK, to feed into a global pool of 25,000 DNA samples. The samples will then be used to research the genetic origins of Anorexia Nervosa in the hope of finding a cure for a mental health disease which kills 20% of those who suffer from it.
Caroline was instrumental in getting Government Minister Brooks Newmark MP to speak about his own struggle with Anorexia during a Parliamentary debate in February last year, and in getting Brooks to be the first MP to give his DNA to the project as part of the ‘Choosing to give……’ initiative, where people can choose to give their DNA if appropriate, or to give their support generally. In the Parliamentary debate, Brooks’ story reduced listeners to tears as he talked about how “stress, fear and anger” in his teens creatyed a “tipping point” in which he simply stopped eating. Brooks, now the Minister for civil society, which includes the voluntary sector, was the first MP to ‘out’ himself as a recovering anorexic.
A second MP, Dominic Raab donated his DNA to be analysed as part of a sample group.
Caroline, a supporter of the project and the initiative said “it is exciting to see ‘choosing to give’ in Parliament, and I am delighted my fellow MPs are showing their support for the Helix project”.
Caroline, who chairs a Parliamentary Committee looking at mental health issues, also said “over the last four years I have come to meet many current and former sufferers of eating disorders. I cannot express how much I admire them and their families for the fortitude they show in the face of such debilitating issues. Educating people about the reality of eating disorders, and De-stigmatising their sufferers should be an absolute priority for society, Giving parity of treatment to mental health disorders such as Anorexia and bulemia must be an absolute priority for Government. Research projects like Charlotte’s Helix, and campaigns such as B-Eat, are absolutely central to securing those two objectives.”
Caroline used a question to the Prime Minster this week to seek his support for Charlotte’s Helix, and the Prime Minister replied “I commend the bravery of all those who have spoken out about their experience with eating disorders. It is not an easy thing to do. We need to learn more about these conditions so that we can provide the right kind of support.”
More can be read about Charlotte’s Helix here: https://www.charlotteshelix.net/helix-news
Follow on @HelixAN25k
More can be read about B-eat here: http://www.b-eat.co.uk/
Follow on @BeatED
See Caroline’s question to the Prime Minster by clicking on the link below and scrolling to 13 minutes.