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Children's health

02nd Oct 2021

The number of children with eating disorders in Ireland is rising

Sarah McKenna Barry

Those experiencing eating disorders in Ireland face a number of barriers in getting treatment, including wait-lists and lack of specialised beds in the public and private sector.

The Health Service Executive has released new figures which show that there has been a rise in the number of children with eating disorders in Ireland.

Last year saw 247 people admitted to hospital for anorexia or bulimia, according to the Irish Examiner. Of those admitted, 237 patients had anorexia, while 10 had bulimia. 94% of admissions were female.

Last year, the number of hospital discharges for patients under the age of 16 with anorexia was up to 121, compared to 104 patients in 2019.

Speaking on the findings on Newstalk earlier this week, Elizabeth Barrett, a paediatric psychiatrist at Temple Street Children’s Hospital called for increased funding into eating disorder care in Ireland. She also pointed to the lengthy wait-lists for treatment in Ireland.

Dr Barrett said: “We ask young people to ask for help when they’re struggling, but if you’re then on a long waiting list, that’s a very challenging situation.”

She continued: “We know that one in five psychiatry posts in the community are either vacant or filled on a temporary basis. So we really need, as a society, to think about that.”

The HSE runs a national clinical programme, although, as Her reported earlier this year, services have been unable to meet the demand of an ever growing number of eating disorder cases across the country.

The health service has previously said that they are trying to address the “current unmet need” for facilities. As it stands, there are only 30 specialist beds for patients with eating disorders in the private sector, and just three in the public sector.

If you have been affected by any of the details in this story you can contact Bodywhys on 01-2107906 or email