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Restrictive Eating Disorders Up Among Teens During Pandemic

Last Updated: July 16, 2021.

FRIDAY, July 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant increase in medical admissions related to restrictive eating disorders among adolescents, according to a study published online July 8 in Pediatrics.

Alana K. Otto, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined whether medical admission patterns among adolescents admitted to a children's hospital for restrictive eating disorders changed during the pandemic. A chart review was performed for patients ages 10 to 23 years admitted from March 2017 through March 2021, and an interrupted time series analysis of admission counts per month was completed.

The researchers observed a significant increase in eating disorder-related medical admissions during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic (April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021), the total number of admissions was more than double the mean number of admissions per year for the same time frame for the previous three years (125 versus 56). Similar patient demographics were seen before and during the pandemic, with the exception that patients admitted during the pandemic were less likely to have public insurance than those admitted prior to the pandemic.

"Our study suggests that the negative mental health effects of the pandemic could be particularly profound among adolescents with eating disorders," Otto said in a statement. "But our data doesn't capture the entire picture. These could be really conservative estimates."

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