Dr. Ayisha Kurji, a pediatrician in Saskatoon, said the pandemic has led to an increase in the prevalence of eating disorders in children and youth in Saskatchewan and a “dramatic increase” in hospitalizations. According to her ongoing study, eating disorders are on the rise among young people, and she has seen kids as young as 11 and 12 hospitalized due to an eating disorder. She believes there are multiple reasons for these increases including disrupted routines, remote learning, and increased time spent on social media. She offers several things to be on the lookout for, such as changes in eating patterns and behaviors, eating alone, and even the way a young person eats as potential indicators that should be given attention. She also invites parents to consider the importance of seeking support as soon as possible, including support from a physician.
Similar findings have been in the news recently that show this to be a trend across the country. Hospitals, such as Sick Kids in Toronto are reporting a 35% increase in admissions to their eating disorder programs, and a children’s hospital in Hamilton says it’s seen a 90% spike in referrals to its eating disorder program. The Kids Help Phone and other online services are also noting an alarming spike in the number of people seeking help for eating disorders. In a study drawing participants from many provinces across Canada, they found that during the first wave of the pandemic, monthly new cases of anorexia and atypical anorexia increased by more than 60 percent and monthly hospitalization nearly tripled compared to pre-pandemic rates, and call for early and more attention to be paid to children and youth’s mental health, and to the protective factors that can support them.
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