Reports show the numbers of young people who are being admitted to hospital because of eating disorders, is rising.
Researchers have attributed this increase to the advent of social media which has contributed to an obsession with image.
According to the Government’s Health and Social Care Information Centre, they have seen an 8% increase. Of the 2,560 patients who were admitted to hospital, the average age for girls was 15 and boys 13. More worryingly was the fact that children under five were also being admitted with eating disorders.
Unfortunately, the children who end up being admitted to hospital are just the tip of the iceberg. Whilst the majority of people will be treated as outpatients or in private clinics, some won’t be treated at all.
There are 1.6 million people in the UK suffering from eating disorders.
Most people will not be admitted to hospital, one in five will die prematurely, either from the consequences of their illness and sometimes through suicide.
Charities are hoping that the recorded increase is due to better awareness of the symptoms of eating disorders rather than a rise in the number of eating disorders overall, however are calling for faster treatment times – some have been known to wait two years before receiving help for their disorder, increasing the chance that their condition would deteriorate.
However if there has been a rise there are many issues being blamed.
One cause could be an increase in those struggling with rising social pressures like relationship breakdowns, bereavement and bullying at school, on top of the desire to be academically successful in a society where jobs are becoming increasingly competitive.
The main culprit has been identified as Facebook along with an increasing obsession with celebrity culture, where actors and models have body types that aren’t achievable.
Users of the social sites are surrounded by images of the perfect body and feel pressure to conform and try to achieve that body type. Facebook then fuels this fixation with body image as girls and boys post photos of themselves and friends can ‘like’ them.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists say there are many triggers to eating disorders, which can stem from longstanding unhappiness. It can also be triggered by social pressures, a desire for control, low self-esteem, depression or a genetic disposition.
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