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Hospital admissions for eating disorders up 84% in five years, NHS data shows

Hospital admissions for people with eating disorders in England have risen 84% in the last five years, official NHS figures reveal.

There were 11,049 more admissions for illnesses such as bulimia and anorexia in 2020-21 than in 2015-16, with 24,268 admissions in total. Experts described the increase as “alarming”.

The number of children and young people admitted to hospital with eating disorders grew from 3,541 to 6,713, with a 35% increase in the last year alone as the Covid pandemic hit, according to the analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

A particularly stark rise in admissions – 128% – was seen in boys and young men, from 280 hospital admissions in 2015-16 to 637 in 2020-2021.

The college has published guidelines to help health professionals identify people whose eating disorders have become life-threatening and get them the right care. It said the signs that somebody was dangerously ill could be missed at GP surgeries and in A&E due to a lack of guidance and training.

Dr Dasha Nicholls, who chaired the development of the medical emergencies in eating disorders guidelines, said: “Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating don’t discriminate, and can affect people of any age and gender.

“They are mental health disorders, not a ‘lifestyle choice’, and we shouldn’t underestimate how serious they are. Even though anorexia nervosa is often referred to as the deadliest mental health condition, most deaths are preventable with early treatment and support. Full recovery is possible if spotted and treated early.”

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Source: The Guardian, 19 May 2022


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