A teenage boy who battled anorexia after cruel bullies told him he was fat has won an award for inspiring others in the same boat as him.
Jack Jacobs, a pupil at Woodside College, in Woodhouse Road, Finchley, finally admitted he had the disorder at the age of 15 – just three years after he began starving himself.
The now 18-year-old was given an award by Beat, a national organisation that supports people with eating disorders.
He believes the media’s perception of super thin celebrities and a perfect body image hugely influenced his eating habits.
He said: “I had all kinds of names thrown at me. I stopped eating because I liked the feeling of being empty.
“I had no energy and I was cutting out more and more food. My days were getting shorter because I was going to bed at 6pm and I had no energy to be alive.
“Seeing photos of really skinny people in the media puts a lot of pressure on children. That coupled with the bullying, it was all too much.”
He eventually asked his mother, Jenny, for him and she took him to the doctor – who told him he “couldn’t be anorexic as he wasn’t overweight”.
Despite this, he was referred to mental health services CAMS who told him he had a very low heart rate and blood pressure.
He added: “I was on the verge of dying but it was the wake-up call I needed. From that day on, I decided to make a change.
“I was angry at the doctor because you can’t diagnose someone with an eating disorder based on their weight.
“I eventually left CAMS to deal with the eating disorder by myself and I am pleased to say I am doing better.”
Jack, who is studying maths, economics and accountancy for A-level, volunteers with Beat to help reduce the stigma of eating disorders, particularly in young men.
He was honoured at an awards ceremony at the Houses of Parliament, which was attended by Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd.
Jack, who lives in Ladysmith Road, Enfield, added: “Every day a is a battle, but you can’t stop life just because you’ve got a problem, you have to pick yourself up and get on with it.”