Sharp increase in eating disorders in young girls during the pandemic
The proportion of girls with eating disorders has risen sharply during the pandemic, according to a new study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).
The study from the NIPH is based on Norwegian health registries and has looked at Norwegian children and adolescents from January 2019 to December 2021. The age range was from six to sixteen years.
According to the study, 507 girls between the ages of 13 and 16 received help for eating disorders in the primary care service from January 2019 to February 2020. In the period from March 2020 to December 2021, this number had increased to 1,554.
In the same age group, there were 621 girls with eating disorders in the specialist health service from January 2019 to February 2020. In the period from March 2020 to December 2021, this number had risen to 1,907.
“Amongst girls aged 13–16, 1.5 per cent were registered with an eating disorder diagnosis in the specialist health service in the period after the pandemic. These are such large numbers that eating disorders must be described as a public health problem for this population group,” researcher Pål Surén at the NIPH says.
The analyses from the study show that the increase started in the summer of 2020, approximately four months after the pandemic began. Similar findings have also been made in Canada and the United States.
Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik.
Surén, Pål et al, Eating Disorder Diagnoses in Children and Adolescents in Norway Before vs During the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2022, Jama Network Open