"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Eating disorders amongst teenagers are increasing

May 1, 2023 – The variety of teenagers receiving treatment for eating disorders is increasing, experts say.

From 2018 to 2022, doctor visits for eating disorders amongst people under 17 increased by 107.4%, based on a report by Trilliant Healthan information company. In 2018, there have been about 50,000 doctor visits, in comparison with greater than 100,000 in 2022. Visits for anorexia nervosa increased by 129.26%.

Healthcare visits can include in-person doctor appointments, hospital stays, and even telemedicine.

“The kids are not doing well,” said Melissa Freizinger, deputy director of the eating disorders program at Boston Children's Hospital. NBC News“As the pandemic started and progressed, we always thought, 'Oh, 2022 will be better. Oh, 2023 will be better.' But that's not the case.”

She said the COVID pandemic has made the situation worse, with young patients being sicker than before and experiencing more severe psychiatric symptoms.

“We all have a collective trauma from the pandemic, but many of these children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Freizinger. “They are also younger.”

Previous studies have found that the pandemic has led to more people developing eating disorders.

“Eating disorders thrive in secret,” says Jennifer Lombardi, a licensed eating disorder specialist and behavioral health manager at Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center. “During the pandemic, it is difficult for people to use healthy coping strategies when they are stressed, anxious and isolated from others.”

The CDC reported in February 2022 that hospital admissions for eating disorders rose sharply through the pandemic, doubling amongst adolescent girls.