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Eating Disorder Hospitalizations Increasing among US Adolescents: Daily Dose

Eating Disorder Hospitalizations Increasing among US Adolescents: Daily Dose / Image Credit: ©New Africa/AdobeStock
©New Africa/AdobeStock

Patient Care brings primary care clinicians a lot of medical news every day—it’s easy to miss an important study. The Daily Dose provides a concise summary of one of the website's leading stories you may not have seen.

On February 2, 2024, we reported on findings from a study published in Hospital Pediatrics that examined the prevalence and clinical characteristics of adolescents hospitalized with eating disorders (EDs) in the US.

The study

Researchers studied data from the PedsNET network of children’s hospitals across the country, including persons aged 12 to 21 years hospitalized at any time from 2010 to 2022 with a primary diagnosis of 1 or more of the following conditions:

  • ED

  • Disordered eating

  • Binge ED

  • Anorexia nervosa

  • Bulimia nervosa

  • Avoidant–restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)

  • Orthorexia nervosa

  • Self-induced purging

  • Self-induced vomiting to lose weight

  • Psychogenic overeating

  • Nocturnal sleep-related ED

  • ED not further specified

The research team used discharge diagnosis data to collect information on type of ED, body mass index (BMI) percentage, presence of cardiac manifestations, and presence of coexisting psychiatric diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

The findings

Investigators analyzed data on 13 403 hospitalizations for 8652 patients. The median BMI percentage was 90.3%, which is just slightly above the category of mild malnutrition (BMI 80% to 90%), according to the study.

A greater than sevenfold increase in hospitalizations was seen from 2010 (294) to 2021 (2135), the latter being the highest yearly total. After the more than 70% increase from 2019 to 2021, hospitalizations decreased slightly to 1783 cases in 2022.

Anorexia nervosa was the most common of the eating disorders, representing 57.5% of cases, although hospitalization for patients with ARFID is increasing, researchers noted.

Authors' comment

"Hospitalizations for EDs among American adolescents are increasing, with a spike during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Significant numbers of patients hospitalized with EDs have suicidal thoughts. Trends in patients with ARFID require monitoring."

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