Dr Dasha Nicholls who is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist and lead researcher on the project, said : ‘Our study gives the first estimate of the incidence of early-onset eating disorders in UK and Irish children’.
‘It is too early to say if there has been a rise in the numbers of children with eating disorders in recent years, but we hope our research can be used as a baseline from which to monitor future trends’.
The study, which was recently published in the British Journal of Psychiatry revealed that approximately three in every 100,000 UK and Irish children under 13 have some form of eating disorder
The researchers also found that of the young children suffering with an eating disorder, 37 per cent were suffering from anorexia, one per cent were suffering from bulimia or over eating, 43 per cent had another eating disorder. The remaining 19 per cent tried to avoid food, displaying symptoms of eating disorders but without being preoccupied with their weight or shape.
67 per cent of those with an eating disorder were preoccupied with their weight, 50 per cent with their body shapes and 43 per cent exercised obsessively.
Experts are now calling for action in improving the detection of ‘early-onset’ eating disorders among young children, but more needs to be done to help GPs recognise the symptoms.
Care services minister Paul Burstow commented on the study findings and expressed that the coalition Government is committed to improving mental health among the entire population, which is why they are investing £400 million to expand psychological therapies over the next four years.
‘Some of this funding will enable the development of stand-alone programmes that seek to extend access to these therapies for both children and young people’.
‘Early intervention is essential for those with eating disorders’.
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