Dramatic rise in anorexia admissions for under 16s

February 18, 2009 12:00 PM

Mark has been campaigning for the Government to improve the level of support for people suffering from anorexia

Figures uncovered by Mark Hunter, MP for the Cheadle Constituency, show that the number of hospital admissions for girls under 16 being treated for anorexia has increased by 80% in the last ten years.

The answer to Mr Hunter's Parliamentary Question showed that the number of girls under 16 admitted to hospital for anorexia had increased from 256 in 1996/7 to 462 in 2006/7. The number of 15 and 16 year olds admitted for anorexia nearly doubled from 75 to 141 and 55 to 108 respectively. Among 12 year old girls there was a 207% rise from 13 to 40 admissions, while 13 years old girls saw a 38% increase from 34 to 47. Admissions for 10 and 11 year old girls increased from 9 to 10 and 11 to 18 respectively, while admissions for older girls increased from 51 to 74 for 17 year olds (45% increase) and 40-61 (53% increase) for girls aged 18. There was also an increase in admissions for girls under 10 from 1 in 1996/7 to 5 in 2006/7.

Mr Hunter said: "These figures are really shocking and show just how little the Government has done to tackle the problem of eating disorders like anorexia. It's outrageous that over the last decade not only have we not got better at treating anorexia before the point that children need to be hospitalised, but in fact these figures show that we've got worse.

"In my parliamentary constituency, Cheadle, Affinity Healthcare operates the biggest treatment centre for people with eating disorders in the whole of the North of England and yet even there demand for places outstrips the number available. The Government needs to make sure there is more support services for people suffering from anorexia and bulimia and their families right from the beginning of their condition. We shouldn't be waiting until these children are so weak they need to be hospitalised before we help them.

"Pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites play a poisonous role in this illness. These websites masquerade as self-help sites while actually encouraging their readers to believe the illness is a life-style choice, giving them tips on how to starve themselves and hide their condition from their family and friends. The Government needs to tackle these websites and work with Internet Service Providers to encourage them to regulate these sites.

"These figures show that the Government is once more failing to tackle mental health issues. Anorexia is a real and growing problem which has devastating effects on young people and their families and we need real action from the Government to tackle it now."

What would you like to do next?