Large rise in UK admissions for teenage eating disorders

Ally Lee
3 Jun 2015

The number of young people across the UK being admitted to hospital with eating disorders has almost doubled over the past three years, according to figures released by the NHS.

Admissions in 13 to 19 year-olds increased from 959 to 1,815 from 2011 to 2014, and some experts say there is a much larger proportion of cases that don’t go to hospital.

The figures support suggestions it is a growing problem among teenagers, and it is thought that around 1 million in the UK are affected by eating disorders.


Lucie Russell, director of campaigns at YoungMinds, says:

The increase in the hospitalization of young people for eating disorders is deeply concerning. YoungMinds has warned for many years that cuts to early intervention services would inevitably see more children needing stays in hospital as local community services become more and more stretched.

The reasons behind why more children and young people have eating disorders are complex but the situation is made much worse  by the onslaught of pressure that they face to have the  ‘perfect body’.

We must do more to help and support children at an early stage when they first start to struggle. Too often the system only responds and provides the care that children and young people need when they reach crisis point. This is unacceptable and has to change. These figures today demonstrate just why it is so vital that the recommendations of the joint taskforce into children and young people’s mental health, that was published before the election, are implemented as soon as possible. We must also help young people to develop positive self image and to combat the culture of body perfection.”


The Royal College of Psychiatrists says the increase is “unprecedented” and could be down to growing pressures and obsessions from online image and social media sharing.

Dr Carolyn Nahman, RCP spokesperson, expresses worries over the consequences vulnerable teenagers put themselves under by viewed ‘idealised photos’.

“This is a risk factor for disordered eating and more serious disorders which can prove fatal,” she warns.

According to support charity Beat, some 1.6 million people in the UK suffer from eating disorders, and one in five will die prematurely, sometimes as a consequence of their illness or through suicide.


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