Hospital admissions for eating disorders rise by 16%
Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has shown an increase of 16% in the number of admissions of people with eating disorders in the twelve months from June 2011 – 2012. Numbers admitted increased from 1,973 to 2,288.
5% of the admissions spent at least six months in hospital as an inpatient, 26% were admitted and discharged on the same day and 11% spent three to six months in hospital.
Anorexia accounted for 74% of admissions, bulimia 7% and other assorted eating disorders 19%.
Of those admitted, 91% were female and only 9% male, compared to last year when 88 % were female and 12% were male. One in ten female patients was 15 years of age, highlighting the increased incidence of the disorder in younger people.
Tim Struaghan, chief executive of HSCIC, told the BBC: “Our data points to a relatively small but nevertheless significant rise in child admissions for the treatment of eating disorders.”
In response, eating disorder charity Beat told the Telegraph: “We are not surprised at the increase […] this is the tip of the iceberg.” Beat said that, while not causing the condition, living in a media and social culture that focuses on women’s weight and shape does aggravate it.
Susan Ringwood, chief executive of Beat, told The Independent: “I spoke to a 12 year old girl who said: ‘ Why have I got to go to hospital when they [celebrities] are on the front of the magazine.’ It reinforces their view that they are not ill – trapping them in their illness.”
Meanwhile, speaking about the rise in admissions to Channel 4, another spokesperson from Beat said “It could be two things. The upside is that there could be better diagnosis or just more awareness. The downside is that more people are being hospitalised.”
Dr Lucy Serpell, clinical psychologist at University College London, said in the Telegraph: “The problem is lack of good outpatient treatment and the failure of GPs to pick up on the disorder and refer.”
A Department of Health spokesperson stated: “We take the issue of eating disorders, especially among young people, very seriously.”
The HSCIC say their figures represent the number of admissions, not patients, and that some may have been admitted more than once.