The number of people with eating disorders admitted to a UK hospital has risen 16% in the past year. According to the latest Health and Social Care Information Centre report, this brings the yearly total to 2,290 hospital admissions.
While this past year saw a significant jump in the number of hospitalised eating disorder (EDs), the numbers have been growing for the past decade. Since 2002, hospitalization for EDs has gone up by nearly 50%.
HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said, “It might be assumed that a person suffering with an eating disorder is cared for in the community through primary services rather than in hospital; with activity in secondary care only part of a bigger picture.
However our figures do suggest that hospitals in England are admitting a greater number of eating disorder cases than in previous years.”
This indicates a lack of available help for people suffering with an ED. If they are caught early, eating disorders do not require hospitalization. It is only when a person is suffering severe malnutrition or at a truly unsafe weight that they require a stay at their local hospital.
Once a person has reached the point of needing hospitalization, their eating disorder is often deeply engrained in their mind and lifestyle. This makes treating the ED more expensive and prolongs treatment.
The report found that women accounted for 91% of all the eating disorder admissions. This has risen from 88% last year.
Most people admitted with an eating disorder were also quite young. According to the report, more than 50% of those admitted for eating disorders are between 10 and 19. Some were as young as 5 and there were even people over 60 struggling with an ED.
According to the eating disorder charity B-eat, there are around 1.6 million people worldwide living with an eating disorder. If these disorders are treated early, the outcome is usually very good but left untreated, EDs fester.
After 20 years of living with an eating disorder, sufferers have a 20% chance of suicide or starvation. The longer these diseases go untreated, the more life threatening and damaging they become. This makes early detection and prevention essential.