Eating Disorders in Teen Girls Doubled During the Pandemic

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedPage Today.

According to a new study, eating disorders in teen girls doubled during the pandemic, and increases were also seen in anxiety disorders, ADHD, and depression.

Among teenage girls, the prevalence of anxiety disorders, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and eating disorders all increased, with the prevalence of diagnosed eating disorders more than doubling, from 0.26% in March 2020 to 0.36% in October 2020 and 0.56% in March 2022, reported Loreen Straub, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues.

“Female youth, especially female adolescents, represented the most vulnerable population with regard to marked increases in the prevalence of MH [mental health] diagnoses during the pandemic, the most pronounced being the prevalence of eating disorders,” the authors wrote in a research letter published in JAMA Network Open.

Asked what could be behind the rise in mental health diagnoses, Straub said she and her colleagues could only speculate. The pandemic disrupted nearly everyone’s daily routines, increased social isolation and financial strain on families, and reduced healthcare access. Among younger people in particular, it led to a “general lack of structure” that may also have been a contributor, she added.

In all, about 1.7 million youths contributed data to each calendar month; 440,722 were girls ages 6 to 12, 410,373 were girls ages 13 to 18, 461,331 were boys ages 6 to 12, and 426,358 were boys ages 13 to 18.

One limitation to the study was that it included only commercially insured youths; therefore, “patterns might look different” for publicly or uninsured populations, Straub said.

Source: MedPage Today

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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