An increasing number of Oz kids, as young as five, are being diagnosed with eating disorders, warns an expert.
Dr Sloane Madden claims that there has been a drastic increase in the number of kids admitted to hospitals in the past one-year, who were severely malnourished because of an Early Onset Eating Disorder (EOED).
The condition commonly linked to teenage girls was now becoming increasingly prevalent in Australian girls, and boys, aged 10 to 12 and even younger.
"Our own experience at the children's hospital, we have had a 50 per cent increase in demand for beds, and we haven't seen that increase in demand in hospitals looking after older adolescents with eating disorders,'' News.com.au quoted Dr Madden as saying.
"At the moment, we have eight children in the hospital where we normally take six and we've got another five waiting for beds.
"What we are seeing clinically, and what is being reported anecdotally around the world is that kids are presenting in greater numbers at a younger age,'' he added.
The study conducted by Dr Madden, which involved all Australian children with EOED from 2002 to 2005, showed a trend of late diagnosis, meaning children being hospitalised with more physical complications.
Out of the 101 cases of EOED, there were 74 girls and 25 boys aged five to 13.
"It makes us very concerned that these children are being misdiagnosed, or they are being diagnosed late and not being referred for appropriate care,'' said Madden.
"They certainly will tell you that they believe that they are fat, that they want to be thinner, and they have no insight into the fact that they are malnourished and they are literally starving themselves to death," he added.