New statistics show the number of children being treated for eating disorders in the counties of Essex and Suffolk has risen by as much as 20%. According to the East Anglian Daily Times, clinical psychologists have said they are seeing patients with anorexia and bulimia getting younger with more severe eating disorder symptoms this year.
In Essex alone, treatment centres have seen a 15% rise in eating disorders since last year. This has led to many doctors and other eating disorder watch groups to call for greater vigilance, by parents and caregivers.
Dr Vicky Moss, clinical lead in eating disorders for Suffolk’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) said “I think we have seen an increase in the number of cases and the severity of cases generally. There are more referred and more of those referrals are in a critical state. By that I mean they are children who lose weight very rapidly and children who have stopped eating altogether. That can be really scary. Once a child has stopped eating it can be very hard to make them start.”
According to Moss, the number of eating disorders in Suffolk usually stays around 60 per year. Unfortunately, that number is 10% to 20% higher than normal right now. Another worrying trend is the increasing number of boys suffering from eating disorders.
Moss said mental health experts are seeing between 10% and 15% more boys with disordered eating than they did last year. This could be due to a rise in male eating disorders or it could be explained by the fact that there is less stigma around men with eating disorders and so more are seeking treatment.
A spokeswoman for national eating disorder charity b-eat, said: “We are aware that more people from a younger age range are being treated in hospital for an eating disorder. However, we can’t say for sure that there is an increase in individuals developing the illness, it could be attributed to better diagnosis and more awareness.”
Either way, with an eating disorder it is important to act fast. The quicker you catch an eating disorder, the better your chances of recovery.
Moss told the East Anglian Daily Times, “Parents often think it’s a phase but if child is routinely skipping meals and not making up for it later in the day or parents notice weight loss then I would suggest they do talk to the child about it and if worried take them to their GP and ask for support.”