Children’s eating disorder disaster as cases soar due to coronavirus ‘perfect storm’

Coronavirus is creating the ‘perfect storm’ for parents worried about their children (Image: Getty)

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Number of children and young people needing help for eating disorders have soared during the pandemic.

Numbers rose 50 per cent between June and August. NHS England figures show 4,535 under-20s were referred for treatment – about 50 a day – compared to 3,050 in the same period last year.

And the rise has meant waiting list numbers have almost doubled.

Eating disorders expert Ulrike Schmidt warned the pandemic had produced “the perfect storm” for the youngsters most at risk.

The consultant psychiatrist, a professor at Kings College London, said loneliness, isolation, disruption of routine and anxiety over problems such as exam chaos would have been triggers.

Professor of eating disorders Ulrike Schmidt

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Anorexia survivor Eliza Moyse, 23, of Norwich, said detox, healthy eating and exercise kicks in the first lockdown would have put pressure on at-risk youngsters.

She added: “These are all good things, but for people prone to an eating disorder they can be incredibly destructive.”

Rebecca Willgress, of eating disorder charity Beat, said more funding for services to cope with rising referrals was urgently needed.

She added: “A full recovery is possible – the sooner someone gets treatment, the more likely this is.”

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