This site is intended for health professionals only

Hospital admissions for eating disorders on the rise

Hospital admissions for eating disorders rose by 16% in the past 12 months, official figures show.

Almost 3,000 admissions for eating disorders were made to hospital in 2011-12, with children and young people among the most likely to be admitted.

The data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows children and teenagers aged between 10 and 19 years old accounted for more than half of all eating disorders admissions in 2011-12 (1,250) - up 6% (960) on the previous year.
Fifteen year-old girls had the highest admissions rate (10%) for eating disorders last year, a trend that has continued from 2010-11.

Unsurprisingly women accounted for 91% (2,080) of all eating disorder admissions, with 15 year-old girls holding the highest admissions rate (10%) for eating disorders last year, a trend that has continued from 2010-11.

“It might be assumed that a person suffering with an eating disorder is cared for in the community through primary services rather than in hospital; with activity in secondary care only part of a bigger picture,” said HSCIC Chief Executive Tim Straughan.

“However our figures do suggest that hospitals in England are admitting a greater number of eating disorder cases than in previous years.

“The data points to a relatively small but nevertheless significant rise in child admissions for the treatment of an eating disorder. This information will be of interest and concern to health professionals and the public alike.”

Anorexia accounted for 74% (1,700) of all eating disorder admissions, while bulimia accounted for 7% (150). The remaining 19% (440) were for “other eating disorders” such as overeating or vomiting associated with other psychological disturbances.   

Of the eating disorder admissions, 26% (500) of patients were admitted and discharged on the same day, while 5% (90) spent at least six months as an inpatient.