Child eating disorders

Around 40 under 18s in Milton Keynes have got NHS help for eating disorders this year.

According to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in Milton Keynes (CAMHS), the children they saw were mainly suffering from Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or a variation of the illnesses.

The average age of the youngsters who got help was 14 and the youngest was nine years old.

Although most of the patients were girls, the service also saw three boys aged between ten and 16.

Heart has got the figures as part of our week long special, for Eating Disorders Awareness Week. (22nd - 26th February)

As part of our report, we have spoken to this 16-year-old from Milton Keynes.

Her weight dropped to six stone 2, and she spent a month in hospital at the end of last year.

She spoke to us about coping with her illness

And she has told Heart that some theories about why young people develop illnesses like anorexia aren't always true

Peggy Treseder works for CAMHS as a Consultant Psychotherapist.

This year the youngest child she has treated is 9-years-old, but in the past she has seen children as young as seven.

Peggy told us that there's been a rise in the number of children with what she calls 'disordered eating', which can develop when people snack throughout the day, instead of eating proper meals.

"There's an element of self-kidology going on where people who are snacking less than normal may be under-eating and they may be over-exercising. They may not actually define that in their heads as having an eating disorder, but they may be preoccupied with their body shape and weight and so on. And then there's the other end of the spectrum, the overweight people, who are snacking relentlessly and consuming far more calories although they're not actually sitting down to a proper meal at any time of the day. So you've got the two extreme ends, neither of which is clinically an eating disorder, but it is disordered eating."

We spoke in more detail about the increase in young people who aren't eating properly and what can cause them to develop eating disorders.

As with adult eating disorders, it is hard to put an exact figure on the number of under 18s suffering from eating disorders, as NHS MK only knows about those who come forward for help.

Peggy talked us through what it can be like for young people to admit they've got an eating disorder, how you might be able to spot it and what help's available in Milton Keynes.

Next we spoke about the affects that an eating disorder can have on someone's body.

Click hear to listen to the long term impacts that young people could suffer because of illnesses like Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.

And lastly Peggy spoke about the very young children she has treated.

If you think a young person you know might need help from CAMHS, you can find out more about the service here