Child and adolescent mental health

Eating disorders

Nationally, eating disorders are estimated to affect more than 1.1 million people in the UK.

They are more common in girls i.e. more than 90%, with a peak age of 18 years. It is rare in pre-pubescent children but has been documented in children as young as 7 years.

Eating disorder National prevalence in 2004 Estimated local absolute number*
National and estimated local prevalence of eating disorders in young people
5-10 yrs old 0.3% 55
11-16 yrs old 0.4% 74
5-16 yrs old 0.3% 110

*Estimate for Central Bedfordshire based on local population numbers (rounded figures) National Estimate from Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain 2004 (latest data)

  • Compared with other mental health issues, eating disorders are not thought to be associated with social deprivation. However there may be higher rates in children attending private girls’ school. English private girls’ schools have been estimated to have a prevalence of 1% in contrast to 0-0.2% in state schools.
  • New figures (January 2014)  from The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show a national rise of 8 per cent in the number of admissions to hospital for an eating disorder. Men and boys account for an estimated 5% to 15% of patients with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35% of those diagnosed with binge eating.
  • There are nine times as many females (91 per cent or 2,320) as males (9 per cent or 240) admitted to hospital for an eating disorder and this is similar to figures in the previous year (90 per cent and 10 per cent respectively). (HSCIC)


Last updated Friday, 22nd April 2016