East Anglia: Psychiatrist warns of eating disorders epidemic

A vomiting virus has broken out at an Ipswich care home.

A vomiting virus has broken out at an Ipswich care home. - Credit: PA

A child psychologist has warned of an eating disorders “epidemic” in East Anglia after a new report revealed more people nationally were being hospitalised because of the conditions.

Kiran Chitale, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services across the two counties, said she was seeing more young patients suffering from disorders such as anorexia and bulimia than ever before.

“We are seeing a drastic rise in these conditions – it’s almost like an epidemic,” she said.

“Boys and girls are coming to us much younger and our referral rates are very high.”

Ms Chitale said it was very difficult to pin down specific causes but highlighted the growing perception among young people that they must conform to social pressures as one likely factor.


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MP for North Ipswich and Central Suffolk Dan Poulter, a junior health minister, suggested similar causes behind the problem.

“While there are many factors that may result in eating disorders it is undoubtedly the case that the approach taken by certain magazines and other publication has put young people under pressure in terms of their body image,” he said.

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The comments come in the wake of new figures by the Health and Social Care Information Centre which showed an 8% increase in the number of patients admitted to hospital due to eating disorders.

The report also revealed that there were nine times as many females admitted than males.

In north east Essex the number of admissions increased from eight to 11 between 2012 and 2013, while in Suffolk the number of fell from 44 to 22.

Ms Chitale said the reduction was “surprising” given the prevalence of the conditions outside the hospital.

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