THE number of young people receiving treatment for eating disorders between April and December of 2021 increased by a quarter from the same period in 2020 and by a third in the period before the pandemic began, according to NHS figures.
Almost 10,000 children and young people started treatment last year and the rise could be attributed to the unpredictability of the Covid-19 pandemic, feeling isolated, disruption to routines and experiences of loss and uncertainty.
Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan, NHS Associate Clinical Director for Children and Young People’s Mental Health and psychiatrist, writing in a blog, said: "Young people’s problems with food can begin as a coping strategy or a way of feeling in control but may lead to more restrictive or unhealthy patterns of eating or other harmful behaviours to lose weight, such as vomiting or exercising excessively."
The NHS has pledged an additional £79 million into children’s mental health services because of increased demand during the pandemic, with funding being used to ensure at least 2,000 more children and young people start eating disorder treatment.
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