Belgians under-16 year old increasingly struggling with an eating disorder: Data

An eating problem is becoming more common among youth children in Belgium under the age of sixteen, according to a survey. The report also reveals that younger children are more likely to have these diseases than before the Covid-19 outbreak started.

The study reveals that more young individuals under the age of 16 are acquiring eating disorders since the Covid-19 disaster, including a new group of highly young adolescent girls with anorexia. This tendency, which is now being noticed globally, is also supported by several departments of children’s hospitals.

The PAika child psychiatric unit of the Universitair Ziekenhuis (UZ) Brussels may house children with eating disorders up to the age of 15. Compared to the time before the epidemic, PAika has disclosed that it now receives three to four registrations each week, or twice as many. On average, those admitted to the facility are currently 11 to 13 years old.

The UZ Gent Center for Eating Disorders has also shown a definite rise. Six percent of patients in 2020 were 12 to 15 years old. That already rose by a fourth in 2021; the rising tendency is still present in 2022.

The typical age of eating disorder patients at the ZNA Antwerp’s child psychiatry is 13 to 14 years old, while some are as young as 11 years old. Additionally, although they could not disclose precise numbers, the UPC in Leuven and the mental clinic Alexians in Tienen both see an increase in patients.

A Vandeputte, the coordinator of the Eetexpert knowledge centre, said that historically eating disorders often only manifested later in life: “The picture that people have globally is that all eating disorders have grown,” she stated.

Furthermore, “However, a new category of somewhat younger individuals who are underweight has emerged. Though small, that segment has grown significantly.”

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