London: “Urgent Action” Needed To Improve Eating Disorders Detection Rates In Young Children: Psychiatrists

1 Aug

Eating Disorders In Almost 100 Under SevensEnlarge Photo

Eating Disorders In Almost 100 Under Sevens

Around 2,100 under-16s have had NHS treatment for eating disorders in the past three years, according to reports.

Just under 600 were aged 12 or under, with 98 aged between five and seven, 99 aged eight or nine and almost 400 between 10 and 12.

The figures came from 35 NHS trusts in England and were released as part of a Freedom of Information request.

It has led to some experts suggesting that children are comparing themselves to “size zero” models and celebrities.

A study published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in April said that “urgent action” was needed to improve the detection of eating disorders in young children, as well as the services available to help them.

It showed that over a 14-month period, 208 cases of early-onset eating disorders were confirmed in children aged between five and 13 in the UK and Ireland.

Most of the children were girls – with boys accounting for 18% of the total.

Dr Dasha Nicholls, lead researcher for the study, said that services might have to adapt to deal with the issue.

She said: “Many eating disorder services are aimed specifically at adolescents. Childhood eating disorders are not quick or easy to treat.

“For a minority of children it may be the start of a severe and enduring illness, with death rates comparable to some forms of leukaemia.

“Our study shows there is an urgent need to consider the needs of children with eating disorders separately – and not simply lower the age range of existing adolescent services.”

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