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Anorexia claiming young children

26th March 2007

Eating Disorders are claiming children as young as six, says a new report.

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In the first national study into eating disorders in pre-teenage children across Britain and Ireland, over 200 were found to have been diagnosed with a range of eating disorders during a 13-month period. The British Paediatric Surveillance Unit at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health found that very young children were suffering with bulimia, anorexia and binge eating and half were so unwell they needed to be admitted to hospital for treatment. The youngest child to be diagnosed with disordered eating was six and anorexia was discovered in one eight-year-old.

Experts say there are many reasons why children develop eating disorders but some of the more obvious causes are their interest in fashion and celebrity culture as well as problems at home or school and a parent who is fixated with their weight. Recent research has also indicated that anorexia may be caused genetically. Anorexia nervosa is particularly dangerous in young children as it can damage their bones causing stunted growth and brittle bone disease (osteoporosis) in later life. Starvation at a young age can brutally affect fertility and also leaves sufferers vulnerable to infection and disease due suppressed immunity.

Typically a child with early on-set eating problems will cut out all fattening foods from their diet, maybe even becoming a vegetarian, and begin exercising excessively. Young children can become ill very quickly with eating disorders but it is often months before their problems are diagnosed.

 

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