As concerning as it is, it always restores a little faith in me to see eating disorders being talked about and addressed nationally in the press, as I fear coverage of these issues is getting dangerously thin on the ground. This is until I read further and discover just a bunch of more empty figures and lack of solution. Perhaps this is why, after reading such news reports, I find myself charged with conflicting emotions and opinions, but all eventually pointing to the same thing, despair.
The fact that the number of eating disorder hospital admissions has increased by 8 per cent, for me, can be seen in a number of different ways. The thing that automatically springs to mind is that this is a negative, although unsurprising outcome, but on reading into it I came to the conclusion that this is actually, a pointless statistic.
For one thing, those 2,560 admissions do not take into account those who are treated as out-patients, as the majority are, and even more importantly, the many people who suffer from eating disorders and do not seek help or receive treatment at all. For me, the truth and the real seriousness of the problem lies with the unknown numbers and this is where our attention should be focused.
Though the rise in admissions could be seen as a positive thing, the fact that more people are seeking help could mean that awareness of the seriousness of eating disorders and the treatment available has increased, this is only, in my opinion, a weak possibility. As much as I would hope this to be the case, the truth is much more likely to be sinister, simply more people are suffering.
However, aside from lacking veracity, this collection of data did uncover some very important points. It won’t shock anyone to hear that nine times as many females as males were admitted from 2012 -2013, the most common age of admission for girls was 15, age 13 for boys, but there were children aged five to nine, and even, distressingly, under fives admitted. (I found it particularly interesting – and a bit strange – that The BBC failed to put this last part in their report.) The age of admissions is a shocking statistic which anyone would hope will spur on some serious action to be taken, children under five suffering from these illnesses is something which I and most of society cannot and should not be able to comprehend.
Although the 2,560 people admitted may be the most severely ill, they are receiving the help they need, and this does not provide an accurate reflection of the problem. What about the rest of the story? What about those who are suffering in silence and living in denial? The truth is, eating disorders take many forms, in many people, of many different ages and the scale of this suffering can never be truly expressed in the form of a government statistic. It is real, it is boundless and it needs to be addressed.