The cost of eating disorders for England.New research from the eating disorder group BEAT estimates eating disorders costs English economy more than £1 billion per year.
In their study, BEAT found that healthcare costs for treating disordered eating were around £100 million each year. Combine that with loss of earnings, long term treatment, and premature death and the economy takes a serious hit of around £1.26 billion.
To help curb the growing human and economic costs, BEAT recommends earlier treatment and better training for doctors. Many teens may go to their GP seeking help but doctors may not recognise the signs of an eating disorder and so forgo treatment. If this happens, the eating disorder can become more engrained. This makes it much harder to treat and often requires long term treatment.
Beat’s chief executive Susan Ringwood said: “Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders. It is vital that the individual is able to access the right specialist treatment as early as possible. Young lives are being disrupted at crucial stages in their development with loss of education hindering career prospects and premature death. This report clearly demonstrates that healthcare costs would be better spent earlier to stop the effects on sufferers, their family and the community”.
Early treatment does not just save money, it can save lives. Eating disorders take more lives than any other mental disorder. The longer they go untreated, the worse they can become.
According to BEAT’s report, there are an estimated 740,000 people in the UK with a serious eating disorder and 2% of serious eating disorders occur in children between 10 and 14. Worryingly more people are being admitted to hospital for eating disorder treatment.
Over the last 12 months alone, the number of admissions has risen by 11%. The average hospital stay is 38 days and even after that treatment, eating disorder patients are nearly six times more likely to die early than those without an eating disorder.
These figures may be disturbing but they also provide a clear solution to the problem of eating disorders. Early treatment not only saves money, it saves lives. By catching the disease early, treatment times are reduced, patience have a higher recovery rate and eating disorder side effects like osteoporosis, organ failure and high blood pressure are all avoided. This can mean a better and far less costly life for everyone involved.