Official statistics for the United States, but which most likely apply to other developed countries as well, show that the number of kids suffering from eating disorders is growing fast and consistently.
Data available for the period 1999 to 2006 show a rise in hospital admittance cases of 119 percent. This increase was accounted for by children under the age of 12. This implies that kids today are considerably more prone to develop such disorders than 10 years ago.
Interestingly, when looking at all childhood hospitalizations cases that take place in the US within one year, experts were surprised to learn that eating disorders of various types accounted for some 4 percent of all cases, which is a very high number.
The new investigation was actually a comprehensive summary and review of more than 200 studies and scientific investigations into the issue of eating disorders.
These new data were published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which also suggests that pediatricians begin including eating disorders on the list of conditions they check for in children during annual check-ups, or before sporting exams and events.
Thorough history and physical examinations should be conducted as follow-ups immediately, if any signs of diseases are suspected or discovered. The driving motto should be “Better safe than sorry.”
One of the other things healthcare experts could do is set children through a thorough psychological assessment, carried out by a professional. This examination would look at what is driving the onset of the eating disorder.
“Pediatricians are encouraged to advocate for legislation and policies that ensure appropriate services for patients with eating disorders, including medical care, nutritional intervention, mental-health treatment and care co-ordination,” says Dr. David Rosen.
The expert, who holds an appointment at the University of Michigan, led the team of expert which authored the new investigation, LiveScience
Details of the new research appear in the latest issue of the esteemed scientific journal Pediatrics.
The study shows that an estimated 1 to 2 percent of all teen girls in the country exhibit symptoms associated with bulimia nervosa, while some 0.5 percent could suffer from anorexia nervosa.
What's worrying is that children of younger and younger ages are brought to hospitals suffering from eating disorders. Why this happens is still a matter of debate.