Anorexia on the rise in pre-teens

06 December 2019

Anorexia diagnoses among pre-teen children in the UK and Ireland have risen markedly, a study suggests.

Researchers from King’s College London (KCL) drew psychiatrist records from 2015. These figures show 3.2 per 100,000 children aged between eight and 12 met criteria for anorexia for the first time in 2015, compared with 1.5 to 2.1 per 100,000 in 2006.

Sarah Byford, professor of health economics at KCL and co-author of the new study, published in BMJ Open, said the findings could mean children were being exposed to risk factors at an earlier age, such as pressure to diet or do well at school, or it may indicate improved identification of children with the condition.

She said that: ‘Early identification means young people get the support they need as quickly as possible and before the eating disorder becomes a chronic and long-term problem.’

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