Author(s): Nicholls DE, Lynn R, Viner RM
Abstract Share this page
Abstract BACKGROUND: The incidence of eating disorders appears stable overall, but may be increasing in younger age groups. Data on incidence, clinical features and outcome of early-onset eating disorders are sparse. AIMS: To identify new cases of early-onset eating disorders (<13 years) presenting to secondary care over 1 year and to describe clinical features, management and 1-year outcomes. METHOD: Surveillance over 14 months through the established British Paediatric Surveillance System, and a novel child and adolescent psychiatry surveillance system set up for this purpose. RESULTS: Overall incidence was 3.01/100,000 (208 individuals). In total, 37\% met criteria for anorexia nervosa; 1.4\% for bulimia nervosa; and 43\% for eating disorder not otherwise specified. Nineteen per cent showed determined food avoidance and underweight without weight/shape concerns. Rates of comorbidity were 41\%; family history of psychiatric disorder 44\%; and early feeding difficulties 21\%. Time to presentation was >8 months. A total of 50\% were admitted to hospital, typically soon after diagnosis. Outcome data were available for 76\% of individuals. At 1 year, 73\% were reported improved, 6\% worse and 10\% unchanged (11\% unknown). Most were still in treatment, and seven were hospital in-patients for most of the year. CONCLUSIONS: Childhood eating disorders represent a significant clinical burden to paediatric and mental health services. Efforts to improve early detection are needed. These data provide a baseline to monitor changing trends in incidence.
This article was published in Br J Psychiatry
and referenced in Advances in Robotics & Automation