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Eating disorders: Hospital admissions up by 8 per cent in a year

January 30, 2014: New figures from the the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show a national rise of 8 per cent in the number of admissions to hospital for an eating disorder(3).

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

*Regional figures are available

In the 12 months to October 2013 hospitals dealt with 2,560 eating disorder admissions, 8 per cent more than in the previous 12 months (2,370 admissions).

Patients admitted to hospital for an eating disorder were more likely to stay in hospital for a longer period of time compared to all other admission episodes. Length of stay was known in 2,189 cases and of these about one in five patients with an eating disorder were admitted and discharged on the same day (21 per cent or 470 admissions) compared to two in three of all admission cases (63 per cent). One in 17 patients with an eating disorder stayed in hospital for longer than six months (six per cent or 130 admissions) compared to three in 10,000 of all admission cases (0.03 per cent).

The report published today focuses on a special topic which is part of a wider monthly publication of all NHS-commissioned provisional inpatient, outpatient and A&E activity in England.

Today's report shows that for all hospital admissions for an eating disorder in the 12 months to October 2013:

  • There were nine times as many females (91 per cent or 2,320) as males (9 per cent or 240) admitted to hospital for an eating disorder and this is similar to figures in the previous year (90 per cent and 10 per cent respectively).
  • The most common age for female admissions was 15 years old (300 out of 2,320) and for males this was 13 years old (50 out of 240).
  • Almost one in five patients with an eating disorder were admitted and discharged on the same day (18 per cent or 470) whereas for all other admission episodes this was two in three (63 per cent).
  • Three in four admissions were for anorexia (76 per cent or 1,940), one in 20 were for bulimia (5 per cent or 130) and other eating disorders accounted for one in five admissions (19 per cent or 500), which is similar to the same period in 2011-12 (77 per cent, 6 per cent and 17 per cent respectively).
  • Treatment for the majority of admissions did not require a procedure but 23 admissions (0.9 per cent) were treated by 'intubation of the stomach'5. This is less than the number performed in the previous 12 months (36 intubation procedures or 1.5 per cent).
  • North East Strategic Health Authority (SHA) and South West SHA had the highest rate of admissions for an eating disorder (6.5 per 100,000 of the population) and West Midlands SHA had the lowest rate (3.5 per 100,000 of the population).6 In 2011-12 eating disorder admissions were highest in North East SHA (5.9 per 100,000 of the population) and the lowest rate was in East Midlands SHA (2.8 per 100,000 of the population).

pdf icon Graph to show hospital admissions for an eating disorder in 2011-12 and 2012-13 in SHAs in England [90kb]

HSCIC Chair Kingsley Manning said: "Today's report shows a national increase in the demand placed on hospitals by patients with an eating disorder.

Hospitals not only dealt with more patients with an eating disorder than last year but compared to other admission types patients with these disorders tend to stay longer in hospital, which will be of significant interest to staff caring for these patients and and those planning services."

Read the full report 


Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 220 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) are compiled from data sent by more than 300 NHS trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) in England and from approximately 200 independent sector organisations for activity commissioned by the English NHS. The HSCIC liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain. Figures refer to recorded admissions and are reliant upon the accurate and complete recording of cause of hospital admission. Submissions from the independent sector in particular have improved significantly in recent years.

3. Some patients may be counted more than once within these figures because they have been admitted more than once in the same reporting period.

4. Many of the trusts with inpatients with a length of stay of more than 6 months have specialist eating disorder units.

5. 'Intubation of the stomach' carries the hospital procedure code OPCS G47 and is a procedure that involves a plastic tube, commonly used for feeding or administering drugs, inserted into the stomach.

6. Rate is per 100,000 of the population by Strategic Health Authority (SHA) residence of an inpatient and not by location of treatment.

7. Figures over 100 have been rounded to the nearest 10. Exact figures are in the report.

8. Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour. The most common eating disorders are: anorexia nervosa, when someone tries to keep their weight as low as possible, for example by starving themselves or exercising excessively; bulimia, when someone tries to control their weight by binge eating and then deliberately being sick or using laxatives (medication to help empty their bowels); binge eating, when someone feels compelled to overeat:

9. For media enquiries please contact or 0300 303 3888

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