This article includes discussions of eating disorders that some readers may find upsetting


EastEnders is to explore the subject of eating disorders in a new storyline, as Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) suffers from bulimia.

It hasn't gone unnoticed by viewers recently that Ben has been avoiding eating, as he took on training sessions for boxing at dad Phil Mitchell's (Steve McFadden) gym. Now, following scenes which showed Ben shortly after making himself sick, the BBC soap has confirmed that it is working with Beat to follow Ben's battle with the illness.

Over the past twelve months, Ben has endured a constant stream of personal trauma, only to later hear the devastating news that Lola Pearce-Brown (Danielle Harold) is terminally ill after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

As Lola's health continues to decline in the coming weeks, Ben will try to stay strong for the family, including their daughter Lexi (Isabella Brown). But in doing so, he will begin to neglect his own mental well-being by restricting his food intake and monitoring his exercise.

Ben will hide his situation from loved ones including his husband Callum Highway (Tony Clay) and mother Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) as he binges and purges in secret, all the while being stricter with his diet.

As a leading charity dealing with eating disorders, Beat has been helping EastEnders ensure an accurate and sensitive portrayal of bulimia.

Speaking about the show's commitment to showing how an eating disorder impacts a male character, Tom Quinn, Director of External Affairs at Beat, explains: "1 in 4 people with an eating disorder are men, but it's rare to see storylines that show how men are affected by these serious mental illnesses.

Tony Clay as Callum Highway, Max Bowden as Ben Mitchell, and Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Beale in EastEnders.
Tony Clay as Callum Highway, Max Bowden as Ben Mitchell, and Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Beale in EastEnders. BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

"At Beat, we welcome that EastEnders has chosen to highlight this important issue and we've been pleased to review scripts, to help ensure bulimia is represented in a sensitive and accurate way. We hope that Ben's story will help to raise awareness of the warning signs and encourage people to reach out for the support they need.”

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EastEnders' Executive producer Chris Clenshaw adds: "It was vital for us to work alongside Beat to accurately present, and sensitively portray Ben’s bulimia storyline. Max’s [Bowden] performance has thoughtfully portrayed the isolating reality of an eating disorder with compassion and understanding as we explore how the traumatic events of Ben’s past have affected his mental health."

Anyone affected by an eating disorder can find help and support by visiting Beat, or calling the charity's helpline on 0808 801 0677.

EastEnders airs on Mondays to Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One and from 6am on BBC iPlayer.

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