Eating Disorders Balloon

May 28th, 2009 | Sources: AHRQ, Amednews

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is reporting an 18% increase in hospitalization rates for eating disorders between 1999 and 2006, and that’s not the whole story.

notaprettypictureAlthough women between the ages of 19 and 30 are still the most commonly affected group, hospitalization rates are growing faster in demographic categories not usually considered to be at risk.

In particular, hospitalizations for children younger than 12 grew 119% over the same period, while admissions among males rose 37%. Hospitalizations for people between the ages of 45 and 55 grew 48%.

“Many people in my field are seeing younger and younger people appearing more severely ill, and we’re seeing more atypical patients,” David Rosen told AMedNews. Rosen is a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of Michigan.

The study, based on data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, revealed there were 28,155 hospitalizations for eating disorders in 2006.

The incidence of more serious diagnoses also increased during the study period. Patients discharged with cardiac dysrhythmias jumped from 650 to 1,462, for example. The number of patients that sustained acute renal or liver failure increased from 99 to 216.

Mortality remained stable at 0.6%.

Some believe the trend may be explained by improved awareness and diagnostic acumen, but others worry it may be collateral damage from the effort to stem the obesity epidemic.

“BMI testing or weighing of kids may wind up triggering something even worse,” warned Edward Tyson, medical director of Austin’s Cedar Springs Eating Disorder Treatment Center.

“I have a lot of patients who start out wanting to get healthy, but they don’t keep things in balance with exercise and food. Eating disorders are all about being out of balance.”


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