Three in every 100,000 children under the age of 13 has some form of early-onset eating disorder, say experts at the University College London (UCL) Institute of Child Health.

The experts have called for "urgent action" in tackling the detection of eating disorders in young children and the availability of services following their study.

The study, published in the April issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, lasted 14 months and detected 208 cases of eating disorders in children aged between five and 13-years-old. Most of the cases (82 per cent) were girls.

They found that 37 per cent of the children studied displayed symptoms of anorexia nervosa and 19 per cent showed signs of disordered eating, such as food avoidance and being underweight.

Lead researcher Dr Dasha Nicholls, a consultant child and adolescent psychologist, said: "Our study gives the first estimate of the incidence of early-onset eating disorders in UK and Irish children.

"It is too early to say if there has been a rise in the numbers of children with eating disorders in recent years, but we hope our research can be used as a baseline from which to monitor future trends."

Posted by Robert Mair on 1.4.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com 

 

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