Public Health England has reported that hospital admissions for eating disorders in girls aged just 10 years old have increased by 146% since 2013/14, with a total of 2,196 hospital admissions for eating disorder of children and young people aged 10 to 24 years in 2017/18.
The report also states that an overwhelming 91% of these were of girls, and 1,326 of them were girls aged 13 to 17 years.
The report states that although bulimia is more common among children and young people, it is anorexia which accounts for the larger proportion of hospital admissions, fuelling concern from leading addiction treatment experts at UKAT.
Experts such as Nuno Albuquerque, the group’s treatment lead, are warning that “social media and celebrity idolisation has a lot to do with the rise”, suggesting that eating disorders stem from body image issues, but that there’s also a “much deeper societal issue with children experiencing the deficit of attachment from parents.”
Nuno also said that “Unlike most other addictions and disorders, the treatment cannot centre around abstinence, because we need to eat to live. Instead treatment is focused on finding a balance in the relationship between the person and food. For most, overcoming eating disorders developed at such a young age is an ongoing process, and for some, will be something they live with - under controlled behaviours learned from treatment - forever.”
Public Health England’s report also raises concern about hospital admissions in young boys, showing that back in 2013/14, only one 10-year-old boy was admitted to hospital but in 2017/18, there were nine and for 14 year old boys, 14 were admitted in 2013/14 which has risen by 178% to 39 in 2017/18.