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Study Finds Hospitalizations for Eating Disorders Doubled During the Pandemic

November 29, 2021
VeryWell Health
Regional Clinical Director Allison Chase shares insight into the increase in need for eating disorder treatment during the pandemic.

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Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health conditions for many people. In particular, reports continue to find that eating disorders are on the rise.

According to a new study, the number of people hospitalized for the conditions like anorexia, bulimia, and other diagnoses doubled in 2020.

The November study, which was published in JAMA Network Open, looked at data on a little over 3, 250,000 people collected from January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2020.

In the first months of 2020, the number of people hospitalized for eating disorders stayed more or less the same. However, a spike occurred right after the pandemic started. By March 2020, the number of people hospitalized with eating disorders had doubled.

The data also showed that the age of patients with eating disorders decreased and younger people were increasingly hospitalized for eating disorders during the pandemic. How long a person stayed in the hospital also increased from an average of 8 or 9 days to 12 days per hospitalization.

Now, experts want to understand why and how the trend developed, as well as identify what can be done to help people with eating disorders moving forward.

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