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Rise in child eating disorder cases

The Liberal Democrats have highlighted a surge in the number of cases of children being admitted to hospital with eating disorders over the last decade.

Figures show there were 673 cases of under-18s being treated for problems with food in 2005-06, a rise of a third on the 486 admitted in 1996-97.

The figures relate to the number of cases, and not individual children, as one child may be admitted several times in a year.

The statistics also reveal there were 58 cases of children under the age of 10 being treated in NHS hospitals for eating disorders in 2005-06 - 23 of them were girls, and 35 were boys.

In 1996-97 this figure was even higher - 36 girls and 43 boys - and has varied over the years.

The Lib Dems also discovered there were 620 cases of children being treated for anorexia across all ages in 2005-06 and 23 for bulimia. This compares with 419 and 49 in 1996-97.

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Sarah Teather said: "Sadly, these figures only represent the tip of the iceberg. Many more children are suffering in silence and trying to appear as if everything is fine.

"As childhood becomes increasingly commercialised, young people are forced to grow up much quicker.

"It isn't surprising that this manifests itself in larger numbers of young children with mental health problems, including eating disorders."

Liberal Democrats

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