Children’s charity ChildLine has revealed that it received more than 10,500 inquiries from children and teens struggling with food/weight-related anxiety in the last financial year. This rise in numbers has been attributed to several factors by the charity, including social media pressures, a growing celebrity culture and an increase in pro-anorexia websites.
According to statistics, the problem is prevalent among secondary school aged girls. During counselling sessions, a number of girls said they disliked their bodies and compared themselves negatively with both peers and celebrities.
Head of ChildLine, Sue Minto, said:
“We are seeing increasing numbers of contacts about eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. These are complex issues, and the rise in contacts is unlikely to be down to any one thing.
“But we do know that in some cases the trigger can be abuse in childhood. We also know that the 24/7 nature of social media places huge pressures on our children and young people which in turn can lead to significant emotional issues.”
The recent case of 15-year-old Tallulah Wilson has highlighted the impact the Internet can have on young people. It has been revealed that Tallulah visited pro-anorexia websites and commented in her diary that she was “ugly” and “fat” before taking her own life.
Ms Minto has commented to say that another reason the number of teens with eating disorders is rising is because there is a greater awareness of the disorders – and of the help available.
According to the charity 14 and 15 year olds were the most likely to seek help, and the most common disorder reported is anorexia. Research on the subject revealed that some of those suffering with anorexia felt it emphasised how they felt they would be happier if they were slimmer. In other cases the disorder was something the teens felt they could control when other things in their life were going wrong and seemingly beyond their control.