Recent reports from the United Kingdom show that nearly 20,000 persons a year with eating disorders are being admitted to National Health Service hospitals. Some blame the effects of social media, which continue to promote physical ideals. A sharp rise has been reported among children younger than 9 years of age and among preteens. Great Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “appalled” by the easy access children had to websites and forums promoting lethal lifestyles, as he pledged to take action to protect those growing up in a digital world. The new National Health Service statistics for England show a 37% rise in hospital admissions for eating disorders in just two years.
There were 19,040 admissions for eating disorders among all age groups in 2018-2019, up from 13,885 in 2016/17, according to the National Health Service. The majority of such admissions were for anorexia nervosa; of note, this included 16 cases in boys and girls aged nine and under– up from 6 cases the year before. There were 186 admissions for anorexia nervosa in girls aged 10 to 12 in 2018/19, and 27 for boys aged 10 to 12. According to Epidemiology of Eating Disorders, eating disorders are more prevalent in children in Great Britain than type 2 diabetes. Echoing these reports from the UK, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports hospitalization of children under 12 with eating disorders increased 119% from 1999-2000 to 2005-2006.