More worrying still, more than 50 of those people were younger than 10 years old.
The statistics, which come from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, also showed that the biggest increase was amongst girls aged between 10 and 15, suggesting that eating disorders may be striking people at a younger age.
The question is – why is this happening?
Some blame ‘pro-anorexia sites’ and social networking for the rise in eating disorders amongst young girls. Women’s Editor Emma Barnett recently spoke about the issue on her LBC 97.3 radio show and was inundated with calls from mothers talking about how they think the Internet has increased their daughters’ levels of self-consciousness.
The culture of adding photos of ourselves to social networks like Facebook encourages us to be vain – we know that other people will be judging us, and we in turn may judge others. For young girls, this can be particularly destructive – especially when judgement turns into criticism and criticism turns into bullying.
One caller to Emma Barnett’s radio show eloquently said: “Before Facebook we wanted to be like celebrities – but at least that seemed out of reach because of their fame and money. Now it’s all about comparing yourself to your peers and wanting to be as beautiful and as thin as them. Facebook has made all of your friends celebrities who you can gawp at in the privacy of your own home and it just makes you feel inadequate.”
Researchers at the University of Haifa last year found that young girls who use Facebook are more likely to develop eating disorders than those who do not. They also found that the more time girls spent browsing Facebook, the higher their chances of developing a negative view of their own bodies were.
To find out how counselling can help people develop a healthier relationship with food and their bodies, please visit our Eating Disorders page.
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