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Child anorexia: Celebrity diets and social media blamed for 12% increase

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Figures for 2018/19 show 2,403 admissions of people aged 18 and under were for anorexia

The number of children and young people admitted to hospital for eating disorders increased by 8% last year, according to NHS Digital data for England.

The numbers for 2018/19 – described by experts as "worrying" – show a 37% increase in hospitalizations over the past two years, with 4,471 people aged 18 or younger seen by doctors – compared with 4,158 a year earlier.

More than half of recent hospitalizations (2,403) were for anorexia, an increase of 12% from 2,147 the year before, with 10 cases involving boys – and six among girls aged nine and under.

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Figures for 2018/19 show 2,403 admissions for people 18 years and under were for anorexia

Emma Thomas, executive director of the Young Minds charity, said: "While there have been some improvements in community care for young people with eating disorders in recent years, it can still be difficult for children and young people to get the help they need before they reach their age. crisis point ".

She continued: "Getting early support can prevent problems from escalating, which means young people are more likely to recover fully.

"The government must make prevention and early intervention a priority for all children struggling with their mental health to ensure they get help as soon as they need it."

Experts say celebrity diets and social media are contributing to an increase in numbers.

Agnes Ayton, president of the College of Psychiatry for Eating Disorders at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told the Daily Mail that young people were "influenced by celebrities promoting diets on social media, as these people can be role models."

The disease is potentially fatal.
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Experts described the numbers as "worrying"

She added: "For young people who show early signs of eating disorders, their families say they are putting themselves at risk, but they may find groups of people on social networks that encourage such behavior."

There were 19,040 admissions in all age groups in 2018/19 – compared with 16,558 in the previous year – and 13,885 in 2016/17.

There were an additional 186 hospitalizations for anorexia in girls ages 10-12 – and 27 in boys ages 10-12.

The most common age to be taken to hospital with mental health problems was 13 to 15, with 1,056 hospitalizations among girls in this age group (over 939 in the previous year) and 53 other cases in boys.

About 1,032 admissions were for 16- to 18-year-old girls (compared with 909 a year earlier), while 33 were for 16- to 18-year-olds.

Looking at older ages, women 19 and older accounted for 5,274 hospitalizations for anorexia and 3,542 for bulimia – while men accounted for 327 hospitalizations for anorexia and 381 for bulimia.

Claire Murdoch, NHS National Director of Mental Health, said wait times for eating disorder services were "better than ever" – with "nearly 100 new or improved community services created in recent years backed by millions of extra funds ".

She said, "Of course, while the NHS is increasing services through our Long Term Plan, the dangerous factors of mental health problems need to be suppressed by the rest of society."

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