Eating disorders: 416% jump in hospitalizations among boys

2023-12-05 16:54:54

The number of boys hospitalized for eating disorders increased by 416% between 2002 and 2019, which could be a sign of greater awareness of this problem, according to an Ontario study published Monday.

Researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) examined more than 11,600 hospitalizations of children aged 5 to 17 in Ontario over a 17-year period.

They then observed an overall increase of 139% in hospitalizations for eating disorders among children and adolescents, but especially noticed a disproportionate increase among boys.

“Our study found that an increasing number of pediatric eating disorder patients with characteristics traditionally considered atypical are feeling unwell enough to require hospitalization,” said Sarah Smith, an attending physician in the Department of Psychiatry. SickKids.

According to experts, this increase could be explained by increased awareness over the years about mental health and the destigmatization of discussions about eating disorders.

They also noted an improvement in screening and detection of these disorders in young boys, in particular thanks to more inclusive diagnoses since 2013 in clinical settings.

“Healthcare providers need to be aware of the growing diversity of children and adolescents requiring intensive and inpatient care for eating disorders, to help identify these patients earlier in their illness,” emphasized Dr. Smith.

“The effectiveness of existing treatments and programs for children with eating disorders and these characteristics should also be evaluated,” she added.

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