According to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for healthcare Research and Quality, hospitalizations for eating disorders have dropped by 23% from 2007 and 2009, following a steep and consistent increase from 1999 to 2007. The severity of eating disorders has also gradually reduced, with symptoms, such as irregular heartbeat declining by 39% and menstrual disorders declining by 46%.

However, from 1999 to 2009, hospitalizations for individuals suffering from an eating disorder called pica, which causes them to eat mostly non-edible substances, such as clay, dirt, chalk and feces, rose to 93%. Those most likely to suffer from pica are women and children, including those with autism and other mental or developmental disorders.

Below are some highlighted details from the federal agency between 1999 and 2009:

  • During the decade, the number of hospitalizations for patients suffering from pica increased from 964 to 1,862, as well as an overall rise of almost 25% in cases of eating disorders.
  • Individuals who were diagnosed with an eating disorder were generally admitted to hospital for other conditions, such as depression, fluid and electrolyte disorders, schizophrenia, or alcohol-related disorders.
  • For anorexia, hospitalizations increased by 13% and decreased 14% for those with bulimia.

Even though 9 out of 10 cases of eating disorders were among women, eating disorders in men rose by 53%.

This AHRQ News and Numbers summary is based on data from Statistical Brief #120: An Update on Hospitalizations for Eating Disorders, 1999 to 2009.

Grace Rattue