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NSPCC: More young children seeking help for eating disorders

Girls as young as 10 are increasingly suffering from an eating disorder, says leading UK charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

It says its Childline service received an average of 16 calls a day between 2017 and 2018 – a 22 per cent rise – from young people struggling with eating conditions such as anorexia and bullimia.

Negative body image

Childline carried out over 5,900 counselling sessions with young people specifically about eating disorders, with nine out of 10 being girls. Of these, 148 sessions were with girls aged just 10 and 11. A third of young people interviewed also spoke about having a negative or distorted body image.

Liz Rowe, Head of Childline at NSPCC said: “Young people tell us that they feel under pressure to look a certain way and live a certain life, and it’s worrying that we are seeing so many children contact us about eating disorders as a result, in some cases when they are still at primary school.

Debilitating

“It’s crucial that all those struggling with such debilitating eating problems are given all the help they need to make a full recovery so that they can go on to enjoy their childhood and teenage years to the full. The starting point on that journey is to open up and talk to someone who can listen without judgement, which is why Childline is such a crucial service for these thousands of children.”

The rise comes after repeated warnings by the NSPCC about pressures created by eating disorders on the child mental health system, and how thousands of young people are being left without the support they need. The UK government last y ear proposed mental health support for children in schools, yet with Childline counselling sessions taking place outside school hours, the NSPCC says this shows the need for better out-of-hours support. .

Author: Simon Weedy

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