Eating disorders usually associated with teenagers and adults are now being seen with in pre-teens, new statistics released by the NHS has revealed.
The results revealed a total of 98 youngsters aged between five and seven years old had been treated for eating disorders, a further 99 aged between eight and nine years old, and almost 400 aged between ten and 12. A further 1,500 were admitted between the ages of 13 and 15.
Many more may have suffered eating disorders which have not, at present, required hospital treatment.
Susan Ringwood, chief executive of the charity Beat, told The Sunday Telegraph:
"A number of factors combine to trigger eating disorders; biology and genetics play a large part in their development, but so do cultural pressures, and body image seems to be influencing younger children much more over the past decade.
"The ideal figure promoted for women these days is that of a girl, not an adult women. Girls see the pictures in magazines of extremely thin women and think that is how they should be.
"That can leave them fearful of puberty, and almost trying to stave it off."
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