Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP has warned Scottish Ministers they must do more to support young people after new figures obtained through Parliamentary Questions revealed that nearly 300 children were treated for eating disorders in Scotland between 2009-10 and 2013-14. Of these, 79 were aged 13 or younger.
These revelations follow reports that the number of children admitted to hospitals across the UK for treatment for eating disorders increased by 89% in just three years.
Mr Hume has called on the Scottish Government to do more to educate young people over the risks of eating disorders and to undertake research into the dangers that social media such as Instagram or Facebook could pose to the mental health of children.
Commenting, Mr Hume said:
“It is worrying that we are yet to see a significant reduction in the number of young people being admitted to hospital for eating disorders.
“With 79 children aged 5 to 13 admitted to hospitals with eating disorders in the last five years alone, there can be no complacency as we work to educate young people over the serious risks that eating disorders pose to their health.
"Children are living more of their lives online on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Much more research must be done to explore the impact online communities are having on a young person’s perceptions and body image.
“Mental health treatment targets have been missed and missed again as people face longer waits for important treatments.
“Whilst there will always be individuals who require care in hospital settings, I also have real concerns that the lack of specialist CAMHS beds across Scotland will mean moving many young patients away from their families and communities. Scottish ministers must reflect seriously on how best to support these young people.”