11 Oct 2012

Concern over increased eating disorders admissions

There has been a 16 per cent rise in the amount of people being treated in hospital for eating disorders in England in the last year according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

There has been a 16 per cent rise in eating disorders among young people over the past year (Getty)

Provisional figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show children and teenagers accounting for more than half of the total.

However, HSCIC said some patients may be counted more than once within the figures because they had been admitted more than once in the same reporting period.

Eating disorders charity Beat told Channel 4 News it is “not surprised” by the figures.

Hospitals recorded 2,290 eating disorder admissions in the year leading up to June 2012.

The largest number of admissions were for 15-year-old girls, who made up 10 per cent (220) of the total. They also accounted for the most admissions in the previous 12 months, when they made up 9 per cent (190) of the total.

Costs for caring for people with eating disorders in England alone is £500m per year. Eating disorders charity, Beat

Young people aged 10-19 accounted for more than half (1,250) of those admissions, up from just under half (960) the previous year, in what HSCIC said was a “relatively small but nevertheless significant rise”.

The HSCIC said regionally, the highest number of eating disorder admissions by population size occurred in the north east where there were 5.8 per 100,000 (150 admissions).

By total admissions, the highest number was in London at 440 (5.6 per 100,000).

Tip of the iceberg

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: “The data points to a relatively small but nevertheless significant rise in child admissions for the treatment of an eating disorder. This information will be of interest and concern to health professionals and the public alike.”

A spokesperson from Beat said there could be two explanations for the findings: “It could be two things. The upside is that there could be better diagnosis or more just awareness. The downside is that more people are being hospitalised.

“We’re not surprised at the increase in the number of people receiving hospital treatment. 40 per cent of people who call our helpline have not yet sought treatment – this is the tip of the iceberg.”

The charity called for treatment to be started earlier: “A 2012 report we issued showed that costs for caring for people with eating disorders in England alone is £500m per year. If there were more treatment available earlier, and in the community, then that figure would be significantly lower.”