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Eating disorders in teenagers have doubled during lockdown, survey reports

Hospital admissions of teenagers with eating disorders in England have increased by nearly 50% since the start of the pandemic, latest NHS figures reveal.

Records show that 3,200 teens had to receive medical care over the last 12 months as a result of eating disorders.

The rise in numbers is quickly reaching crisis point, with specialist hospital beds rapidly becoming unavailable for patients suffering with eating disorders.

Some hospitals have resorted to putting patients on standard wards, meaning these people will not receive specialist care.

Since the pandemic, individuals are also expected to wait three times as long before receiving any form of long-term treatment.

Saffron Cordery, from NHS Providers, said: “Many children and young people are presenting later with more complex symptoms which are often harder, and take longer, to treat.”

Quick interventions help reduce hospital admissions, but current resources cannot cope with the increased demand.

According to mental health organisations, lockdowns have elevated young people’s anxiety levels as a result of constant isolation.

Experts have found that rising anxiety levels often cause eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia.

While the pandemic has triggered an increase of new eating disorder cases, those who suffered with the condition before lockdown have also struggled.

Tom Quinn, from the eating disorder charity Beat, said: “For those who already had an eating disorder, their illness has worsened, more people have developed an eating disorder for the first time and others who thought they had recovered from their eating disorder have relapsed.

“We have seen a huge increase in demand for our helpline, with many talking about increased anxiety, isolation and lack of support as factors.”

Emma Thomas, Chief Executive of Young Minds, said: “The pandemic has left many young people isolated, uncertain about the future and less in control.”

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