Anorexic at five

2011-08-01 12:50

London – Nearly 100 children aged between five and seven in Britain have been treated for anorexia or bulimia in the past three years, according to figures released today.

The statistics show that 197 children aged between five and nine were treated in hospital in England for eating disorders, fuelling campaigners’ fears that young children are being influenced by photographs in celebrity magazines.

The figures from 35 hospitals showed 98 children were aged between five and seven at the time of treatment and 99 aged eight or nine. Almost 400 were between the ages of 10 and 12, with more than 1 500 between 13 and 15 years old.

The statistics, released under the Freedom of Information Act, are believed to underestimate the true figures because some state-run hospitals refuse to release any data.

Other hospitals would only release figures for children admitted after they had become dangerously thin, excluding those undergoing psychiatric therapy as outpatients.

The findings come after experts called earlier this year for urgent action to improve the detection of eating disorders in children.

About three in every 100 000 children under 13 in Britain and Ireland have some sort of eating disorder, according to a study conducted by experts from University College London’s Institute for Child Health.

Susan Ringwood, the chief executive of the eating disorders charity B-eat, said the latest figures reflected “alarming” trends in society, with young children “internalising” messages from magazines which idealise the thinnest figures.

She said: “A number of factors combine to trigger eating disorders. Biology and genetics play a large part in their development, but so do cultural pressures, and body image seems to be influencing younger children much more over the past decade.”

Children were receiving “pernicious” messages, Ringwood told the Sunday Telegraph.

“The ideal figure promoted for women is that of a girl, not an adult woman. That can leave girls fearful of puberty, and almost trying to stave it off,” she said.

The Department of Health said it was spending £400 million (R4.3 billion) over the next four years on psychological treatment for eating disorders, including a specific programme for children and young people.

“Early intervention is essential for those with eating disorders,” a spokesperson said.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.