Increase of adolescent hospital visits for eating disorders during pandemic
A new study based on health data from Ontario suggests adolescents between the ages of 10 and 17 were most affected by eating disorders during the pandemic.
Researchers looked at data on emergency room visits and hospital admissions related to eating disorders from three years before the pandemic and compared it to the first two and a half years of COVID-19.
They found that E-R visits jumped by 121 per cent above expected rates among the youngest age group in the latter period.
Hospital admissions also rose for adolescents -- by 54 per cent -- while dropping for all adult age groups.
The study, published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, also shows that for those between 18 and 26, visits to E-Rs were 13 per cent above expected rates. The visits were up by 15 per cent for the oldest group -- those aged 41 to 105.
Lead author doctor Alene Toulany, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, says it's clear that the pandemic affected adolescents differently than adults.
She says adolescents lost out on structured activities and schooling while being more heavily influenced by social media.
Toulany says that while the study did not find as much of an increase in eating disorder-related hospital visits among adults, there aren't enough hospital beds for them.
She says they also may end up on wards for other medical issues without their main condition being coded in health data.