Parliamentarians urged that eating disorder deaths be recorded on a national register, as experts warn that a growing number of people are suffering from life-threatening diseases in the UK.
Statistics from the National Statistical Office show that 36 people died from conditions such as anorexia in 2019, but there are concerns that this underestimates the actual number of deaths. High-quality studies in the United States provide estimated data on mortality, indicating that the annual mortality rate could be around 1,860 when transferred to the United Kingdom.
MPs in the political spectrum are calling for better research and data collection for conditions such as anorexia and bulimia. The Guardian’s data analysis shows that there is a hidden epidemic among men, and the waiting time for children and adolescents to seek help is increasing.
Romsey and Southampton North’s Conservative House Speaker Caroline Nokes said: It is concerned that deaths from eating disorders may be collected and underreported in different ways across the country. I asked the Ministry of Health and Social Services if they would consider a central reporting method.
Sheffield Hallam’s Labor MP Olivia Blake said: Despite limited data, we know that eating disorders are the number one killer of all mental health conditions. We can predict that the exact number is actually much higher.
Agnes Ayton, professor of eating disorders at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said that eating disorders are not always a direct cause of death. For example, a person with severe malnutrition may die of organ failure, so the risk of impact may be underestimated. We need to train other professionals, such as clinicians and coroners, who are responsible for documenting these deaths at home as well as in acute and inpatient settings.
Experts warned earlier this year that levels of eating disorders soared as the epidemic surged as people became isolated and out of control during lockdowns.
Official statistics on death are based on data collected as part of a citizen registration based on a medical certificate of cause of death completed by a doctor or the conclusion of a coroner after investigation.
Coroner Sean Horstead recently expressed concern about the potential for serious underreporting of eating disorder deaths. In a report examining the deaths of five women, he said there was a lack of strong and reliable data on the disease.
Although eating disorders had the highest mortality rates from mental illness, coroners were concerned that the extent to which eating disorders contributed or contributed to death may be significantly underreported.
Concerns about the lack of research arise in a situation called a crisis, with a growing number of people suffering from eating disorders who cannot get timely treatment.
According to data analysis by The Guardian, the number of men experiencing problems has increased significantly, from 911 in 2016 to 1,825 in 2020, according to NHS Digital data.
Ayton said this is likely the tip of the iceberg, where eating disorders among men are often a hidden problem.
Ayton said men could come to the hospital after experiencing an eating disorder for decades. Hospitalization data is actually the tip of the iceberg, she said. They added that they faced increasing body image pressure and were also affected by the government’s anti-obesity message.
Separately, the number of children and young adults waiting for urgent treatment for an eating disorder increased seven times compared to the same period last year, and the number of people waiting for regular treatment increased by 158.6 percent.
Nokes, chair of the Women’s Equality Commission, said she helped write a report highlighting the impact the pandemic has had on the way people see their bodies. The coronavirus, he said, was the trigger as social interactions and support networks were torn from people.
She added: While there is a crisis in the number of people suffering from eating disorders, there is also a crisis in their ability to access timely support services. If someone shows you a problem with eating and asks for help, the worst thing to do is turn them around and tell them to wait.
Mental Health Minister Nadine Dorries said: We understand how important it is for people with eating disorders to get the support they need, and we urge everyone in need to move forward.
Our commitment to expanding and transforming mental health services in the UK, in addition to the Mental Health Restoration Action Plan, will receive an additional 2.3 billion per year in 2023-24, providing the right approach to helping people over the next few years. A variety of mental health conditions, including eating disorders.
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