THE number of people admitted to hospital with eating disorders has almost doubled in the last year.
Figures released from City Hospitals Sunderland reveal 45 people were admitted with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa between 2011 and 2012 up from 25.
The number of children aged 16 and younger admitted with anorexia nervosa almost tripled, from six between 2010 and 2011, and 16 from 2011 to 2012.
A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland, said: “Eating disorders are often blamed on the social pressure to be thin, and it is possible that these pressures have increased with the growing impact of social media and ‘reality’ television.
“The causes are usually more complex - there may be some biological or influencing factors, combined with an experience that may provoke the disorder, plus other factors that encourage the condition to continue.
“If patients are referred by a Sunderland GP we will offer dietetic intervention depending on the severity of the situation.
“Individuals will generally be seen as an outpatient in a specialist paediatric clinic (if under the age of 18yrs) or in a clinic delivered by a specialist dietitian.
“If we have concerns or feel more intensive support is required, then we would inform their GP and suggest referral onto specialist regional teams.”
Janice Wilson is a counsellor and development officer at mental health charity Sunderland Mind, based in Norfolk Street. “The people who are admitted to hospital are there because they are really very unwell,” she said.
“They regard their disease as their friend.
“Sometimes they even give it a nickname.
“I gave a talk at a school not so long ago, and when I was describing some of the things people do to try and hide eating disorders there were some very sheepish faces.
“People wear baggy clothes to hide the fact they’re losing weight, they count calories and weigh themselves a number of times a day.
“It can stem from control issues if people are having issues in their lives which are out of their control.
“They feel their weight is the only things they can control so they become obsessive about it.
“It’s when the control shifts so that the disease is in charge that you find yourself losing control.”
The number of people with eating disorders admitted to hospital aged 17 and older increased in the last year from 12 to 16, and Janice said the service at Sunderland Mind is seeing an increase in the number of boys and men seeking help.
Sunderland Mind operate a drop-in service from 10am Monday to Friday.
For more information call 565 7218.