Kids under 10 admitted to hospital with eating disorders

Friday, October 12, 2012
Kids under 10 admitted to hospital with eating disorders
Australian eating disorder services are treating children as young as seven

Already one of the most common chronic disorder affecting young girls, eating disorders are starting to strike at a younger age with children as young as seven being admitted to hospital for treatment.

Data from the UK shows that more than 50 under ten-year-olds were admitted to hospital with eating disorders in the past year, and the figures from Australia are just as shocking.

Related: How you can boost your daughter's body image

Forty-seven children aged between five and nine were admitted to hospital for eating disorders in the UK in 2011/12, a dramatic increase from 17 the year before.

Total admissions for eating disorders tallied 2,288, with young girls aged 10 to 19 accounting for half of all admissions.

The shocking data also showed that girls under the age of five were being admitted for eating disorders , though experts said these were likely to be with physical problems with eating rather than mental health disorders like anorexia.

These issues have been echoed closer to home as well, with the Children's Hospital at Westmead Eating Disorder Service, the largest eating disorder service in New South Wales, receiving an enormous increase in demand for admissions.

The latest data from the hospital shows a 270 percent increase in admissions since 2000 and a 1000 percent increase in outpatient appointments.

The eating disorder service, which treats children up to age 16, has admitted patients as young as seven for treatment.

Related: Why we should leave the body image debate to teens

The group showing the greatest demand for treatment for eating disorders were 14-year-olds, who made up 60 percent of admissions in 2009/10, but children up to age 12 made up 20 percent of the hospitals 81 admissions.

The majority of Westmead's children's eating disorders facility patients are treated for anorexia nervosa, the third most common disorder affecting adolescent girls, with a lifetime mortality rate of up to 20 percent, a rate higher than any other psychiatric disorder.

Video: Media gave me anorexia

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