Tokyo, Nov 3 The number of young people diagnosed with the eating disorder anorexia in Japan has increased around 60 per cent in fiscal 2020 compared with a year earlier, likely due to growing anxiety and pressure amid the Covid-19 pandemic, local media reported Wednesday.
A survey released last month by the National Centre for Child Health and Development found that 28 boys and 230 girls under 20 years old were newly diagnosed with the eating disorder in fiscal 2020 through March this year, both up over 60 per cent from the previous year, reports Xinhua news agency.
Nine boys and 132 girls were newly hospitalized for anorexia, increased from six and 93 respectively compared with the previous year.
The survey also found some hospitals lacked available beds for those in severe conditions despite the uptick in patients, as their beds were used to treat Covid-19 patients.
The centre conducted the survey in two months through the end of June with the effort of 26 medical institutions in 19 of the nation’s 47 prefectures.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an obsessive fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight. It can lead to a life-threatening condition or even death.
An official of the centre believed the increase in young people diagnosed with anorexia was triggered by the pandemic, which has disrupted the lives of students at elementary, middle and high schools.
“Because many schools suspended activities as a measure against the coronavirus, a lot of young people felt a greater level of stress and anxiety,” the official said.
A series of other surveys conducted by the same centre on parents and their children also found that many young people expressed worries and discontent over their school life due to the pandemic.
In the survey, a boy in the fifth grade of an elementary school wondered if people are going to spend the whole life not going outside and not doing anything, and a girl in the second grade of a middle school said she wants to live a normal life as soon as possible.
The centre said there should be more medical institutions that can treat patients with eating disorders.
It also called on parents and schools to pay attention to any children who are suffering weight loss and refer them to the hospital before their health deteriorates.