Recent Trends in Eating Disorders

Documenting the trends in eating disorders is difficult because many who suffer from the disorders never seek treatment. Because of the stigma associated with anorexia and other disorders, many who have the disease hide their condition for years before entering an eating disorder treatment program.

It is important to assess the national trends in eating disorders to understand the effectiveness of outpatient treatment and hospitalizations, as well as the age and gender differences in those who have eating disorders. A recent article on Clinical Psychiatry News provided information about the trends in eating disorders over the past few years.

The information comes from a report compiled from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. The report documents information not only from the past 10 years, but also data that compares 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. The analysis reveals some helpful information about decreases in some types of hospitalizations.

The data shows that over the last two years of the period documented, there was a significant decrease in eating disorder hospitalizations, with the exception of hospitalizations for pica. Pica is an eating disorder in which an individual consumes non-food items like clay or dirt. Thirty-one percent of the hospitalizations for pica involved children with autism.

Overall, the report shows that from 1999 to 2009, there was an increase of 24 percent in hospitalizations for eating disorders, but a careful look comparing 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 data shows a decrease, indicating that there have been significant improvements in eating disorder treatment programs.

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