Popular former boyband member Zayn Malik has been praised by fellow sufferers and supporters for revealing he had an eating disorder.
The 23-year-old, who has now gone solo, said he suffered from an eating disorder while part of One Direction, the band formed on ITV’s X Factor.
In his new autobiography, Zayn says that it was only when he looked back on photos from two years ago that he realised just how ill he was.
Zayn, now in a relationship with model Gigi Hadid, says:”Something I’ve never talked about in public before, but which I have come to terms with since leaving the band, is that I was suffering from an eating disorder.”
He said that the disorder did not stem from any concerns he was having about his weight.
But he added:”I’d just go for days – sometimes two or three days straight – without eating anything at all.It got quite serious, although at the time I didn’t recognise it for what it was.”
He said he believed not eating stemmed from wanting to take control of a situation he felt was out of his hands as one of the members of a boyband.
Zayn explained: “I think it was about control. I didn’t feel like I had control over anything else in my life, but food was something I could control, so I did.I had lost so much weight I had become ill.
“The workload and the pace of life on the road put together with the pressures and strains of everything going on within the band had badly affected my eating habits.”
It is not clear whether Zayn was ever officially diagnosed with a disorder or whether he received medical help.
But his decision to be so candid about his own relationship with food has been praised by eating disorder charities and sufferers.
It is hoped that Zayn’s experience may encourage other men to come forward and seek help for a problem which has traditionally been thought to be one which affects mainly women and girls.
According to statistics from the support group Men Get Eating Disorders Too, men account for 11 per cent of people receiving inpatient help for an eating disorder.
This figure, however, is thought to be the tip of the iceberg as many men feel uncomfortable stepping forward to admit that they have a problem.