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Study finds eating disorders increased during pandemic among adolescents – Times of India



TORONTO: Emergency department (ED) visits and hospital admissions for eating disorders increased during the COVID-19 pandemic in adolescents aged 10-17 years, as did ED visits among young adults and older adults, according to new research.
The findings were published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Using ICES data, researchers compared observed and expected rates of ED visits and hospitalisations for eating disorders in adolescents (10-17 years), young adults (18-26 years), adults (27-40 years), and older adults (41-105 years) before and during the pandemic (Jan. 1, 2017 to Feb. 29, 2020).
“A combination of risk factors – including isolation, increased time spent on social media, extended time spent with family, decreased access to care, and fear of infection – may contribute to an increased risk of the development or exacerbation of an eating disorder,” write Dr. Alene Toulany, an adolescent medicine specialist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and adjunct scientist at ICES, Toronto, Ontario, and coauthors.
Additional factors that may have contributed to the increase in eating disorders include concern about health and exercise with the closure of gyms and other opportunities for physical activity and household stress.
The authors recommend more investment in eating disorder programs for adolescents and adults, as well as continued research.
“Our findings reveal significant variations in the utilization of acute care services for eating disorders across different age groups. This highlights the need for a nuanced approach to allocating mental health resources and expanding system capacity and resources dedicated to both adolescent and adult eating disorder programs,” said Dr. Toulany.
“Further research is needed to determine the degree to which the surge in acute presentations is attributable to new eating disorders or exacerbation of pre-existing eating disorders,” the authors conclude.

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