Hospital admissions for eating disorders in children are increasing. Who is affected may surprise you

Hospital admissions for eating disorders in children are increasing.  Who is affected may surprise you


Clinicians, researchers, and activists have emphasized the need for better treatment and services for people with eating disorders who do not fit the patient stereotype—and recent data indicate a growing need.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 11,000 hospital admissions for eating disorders in children in Ontario between April 2002 and March 2020, according to a new study.

The data showed that hospitalizations generally increased during that period, rising by 139% from 2002 to 2019.

But the biggest changes have been among populations that are often overlooked in the public’s perception of eating disorders. Hospitalizations in young patients rose by 416%, in patients ages 12 to 14 by 196%, and in those with eating disorders other than anorexia or bulimia nervosa by 255%, according to research published by JAMA Network Open on Monday.

“We need to realize that young people who “It doesn’t meet the typical profile of someone with an eating disorder, of becoming quite sick — sick enough to require hospitalization,” Al-Rasas said. Study author Dr. Sarah Smith, an attending physician in the department of psychiatry at the Hospital for Sick Children, known as SickKids, in Toronto.

When many people think of someone with an eating disorder, they imagine a wealthy white teenage girl, said Stuart Murray, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Murray, who was not involved in the study, is also director of the Laboratory for Translational Research in Eating Disorders at Keck.

“This image unfortunately contributes to misdiagnosis and incomplete diagnosis Sarah Hofmeyr, a licensed clinical mental health counselor and executive director of outpatient services at Veritas Collaborative in North Carolina, said via email. Hoffmeyer was not involved in the research.

Eating and nutrition disorders also extend beyond anorexia and bulimia nervosa.

Other eating disorders in more recent research have included pica, rumination and other specific eating and feeding disorders.

Pica is a condition in which a person eats non-food items for at least a month, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The clinic said rumination syndrome occurs when a person vomits undigested food.

Other specified feeding and eating disorders, or OSFED, It’s a diagnosis given when someone has a significant eating disorder, but the behavior may not quite meet the diagnostic criteria for other disorders, said Lauren Smolar, vice president of mission and education for the National Eating Disorders Association. CNN earlier. She did not participate in the study.

Stigma and screening

Part of the rise may be due to increased prevalence of eating disorders, but decreased stigma and improved screening may also influence the numbers, said Smith, an intern at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, a nonprofit research organization. She conducted the research while she was a research fellow at SickKids.

“I hypothesized that changes in eating might be the case It is fueled by reasons other than the desire to lose weight, for example, and people wanting to be healthier or wanting to be fitter. “It may also be that health care providers are getting better at testing…or that parents are getting better at picking up on these red flags in their struggles and helping them get care.”

Murray previously told CNN that historically, eating disorder screening was not designed for men and boys because they were excluded from the diagnostic criteria.

Until recently, breast changes and menopause were key components in diagnosing eating disorders, Murray said. He added that although criteria have changed since then, men and boys are still excluded from most eating disorder research.

This exclusion can often lead to stigma, as men and boys – as well as those around them – are unaware of their behavior or are reluctant to get help because they believe it threatens their masculinity when they say they may suffer from a disorder classified as a gynecological disease.

Importantly, Smith said, the data only captured disorders that rose to the level of hospitalization, meaning the numbers would be higher if they included other eating disorder services.

The data also stopped before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“A fair amount of recent media attention to eating disorders has focused on the epidemic,” Smith said. She added that further research could look into whether these trends persisted — or even worsened — during the peak of the pandemic.

Diagnostic criteria may be adapted to be more representative, but it is important for families and doctors to know what to look for, Hofmeier said in an email.

She added: “Accurate and early diagnosis allows for early intervention, and the ability to intervene early can help shorten the overall duration of the disease and increase progress towards full recovery.”

Many families and family doctors are still unfamiliar with the signs of eating disorders in boys and men, so knowing what to look for is the first place to start, Murray said.

Talk to your pediatrician if you notice changes in your child’s eating behaviors, rapid changes in weight or growth and development, personality changes or signs of malnutrition.

Those symptoms can include “fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, constantly feeling cold, dizziness, irregular menstrual cycle, hair loss and weight fluctuations,” according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Jennifer Rollin, founder of the Eating Disorders Center in Rockville, Maryland, recommended reaching out to therapists who specialize in eating disorders, so they can conduct assessments and recommend what other professionals should bring.

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