PSYCPORT.COM - SOARING numbers of young girls are being treated in hospital for eating disorders.
Cases of bulimia and anorexia among girls under 18 have leapt by 47 per cent from 562 in 2004 to 825 last year.
Worryingly, there has also been a 25 per cent rise in girls UNDER NINE being treated for eating disorders.
The new figures also show the number of women needing hospital treatment has risen by 25 per cent to 1,740 compared with 1,398 in 2004. The number of men being treated for eating disorders has also gone up, rising to 226 last year from 183 in 2004.
Health experts blame the increasing pressure on young people to stay thin for the rising number of anorexia and bulimia cases. In a recent poll of 3,000 teenagers 75 per cent said they felt they needed to lose weight after looking at pictures of skinny stars such as Kate Moss and Nicole Richie.
Susan Ringwood, chief executive of eating disorder charity Beat, said: "We are very concerned by these figures. We have heard of cases of people being told by doctors 'wait and see and come back later'. And these people get very, very ill before they get any help.
"Eating disorders are a serious psychiatric condition. It's worrying that young people who are suffering are not getting the appropriate treatment until they are dangerously ill."
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb, who obtained the figures, said: "Children shouldn't be getting to the stage where they are so ill they need to be hospitalised before they get help."
I WAS FIVE STONE AGED 15
ALI Valenzuela owes her life to treatment for anorexia - but says not enough is done for sufferers.
At the worst point, when she was 17, her weight fell to FIVE STONE and she only ate two bits of fruit a day.
Ali, 20, who says she is now a safe weight for her height, 5ft 7ins, said: "If I hadn't gone to hospital I wouldn't be here today.
"I knew I looked horrible and people used to stare. But I had no control over it."
She had to beg for funding for private care because no treatment was available on the NHS.
When she got a grant, she had to travel 100 miles from her home in Swansea to a clinic in Bristol.
Ali wants the Government to do more for anorexics and has written a book, Weighing It Up, about her illness.
More than 90,000 children and adults in the UK were diagnosed with an eating disorder last year. But campaigners estimate that 1.3million people are currently battling an eating disorder yet seek no help and choose to suffer in silence instead.