Rates of eating disorder diagnoses and self-harm “substantially increased” among teenage girls in the UK during the first two years of COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a new study.
Social isolation, anxiety resulting from changing routines, and school shutdowns contributed to increases in eating disorder diagnoses and self-harm in young girls, but the affected number could be even higher than researchers observed.
The new study, published in the Lancet Child And Adolescent Health journal, looked at nine million records belonging to patients aged 10-24 years, from around 2,000 GP practices across the UK.
“In summary, the incidence of primary care-recorded eating disorder diagnoses and self-harm episodes have substantially increased among teenage girls in the UK in the two years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report authors wrote.
The report has come in as a former chief medical officer has told an official probe into COVID-19 that lockdowns “damaged,” and still continue to damage a generation of children.
Since March 2020, when the first COVID-19 lockdown was implemented, eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia were 42 percent higher than would be expected for teenage girls aged 13-16, and 32 percent higher for those aged 17-19, they found.