Why eating disorders in children and young people are increasing: implications for practice
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Why eating disorders in children and young people are increasing: implications for practice

Emmie Hopkinson Student nurse, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Kingston University, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, England
Julia Petty Associate professor, Department of Nursing, Health and Wellbeing, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To be aware that the number of children and young people with eating disorders continues to increase

  • To recognise that early intervention is vital in supporting a child or young person with an eating disorder

  • To acknowledge that some young people with an eating disorder will refuse treatment or do not seek help

According to data collected by NHS England in 2022 1,721 children and young people were awaiting treatment for eating disorders compared with 603 patients in 2016. This reveals an increase of 185% in eating disorders among children and young people and suggests that this increase will continue to occur even with the government pledging £79 million (GOV UK 2021) to expand children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and early intervention services (NHS England 2022a). This is due to the already extensive CAMHS waiting list managing the sizeable accumulation of referrals combined with the consistent increase of new referrals.

This article outlines the most common types of eating disorders, the importance of the school nurse and factors that have affected the prevalence of eating disorders in young people, highlighting that early intervention and prevention is vital. The authors argue that this can be achieved through increased funding for services such as CAMHS and the First Episode and Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders service, stricter legislation surrounding social media and greater mental health education in schools for teachers, young people and their families.

Nursing Children and Young People. doi: 10.7748/ncyp.2022.e1445

Peer review

This article has been subject to open peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software




Conflict of interest

None declared

Hopkinson E, Petty J (2022) Why eating disorders in children and young people are increasing: implications for practice. Nursing Children and Young People. doi: 10.7748/ncyp.2022.e1445

Published online: 05 December 2022

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