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Children with eating disorders deprived of 'vital treatment'

1st August 2012

Professor Bryan Lask has told the BBC's Newsnight programme that children with eating disorders are not being given the treatment they need.

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The expert on eating disorders said he was seeing more patients aged under 10 years of age.

New data has shown that the NHS spends over £1 billion every year treating eating disorders.

However specialist services have said that NHS spending cuts mean more patients having to wait to be seen and their health deteriorating while they wait for care.

Professor Lask, who was responsible for setting up the eating disorders unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital, has researched new ways of understanding anorexia.

His team have focused on a small part of the brain called the insula, which has been found to be "underactive" in anorexics.

Professor Lask has said he believes that people have a genetic predisposition to develop anorexia.

He told Newsnight: "We are suspecting that there is an abnormality in the insula, it is not quite working properly and... there's a knock on effect around the body."

"For so long people thought that this is essentially middle class girls getting it. But it's not like that at all. It's an illness we do not choose to get," he explained.

He added: "The focus [of treatment] is so much on re-feeding and weight restoration. We are struggling with the idea that once their weight is restored they're cured. It's nonsense. They're not at all." 

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