As many as 1,675 youngsters between 10 to 16 years old in Malta may be affected by an eating disorder, with the number being large enough to cause concerns.
In fact, more females (3.25% of females and 2.25% of males) are affected than males, but when young males are affected, the disorder may be more severe.
These are but some of the findings of a recent study conducted by the Faculty for Social Wellbeing on behalf of Dar Kenn Għal Saħħtek, which examined the eating habits of 400 girls and boys aged 10 to 16 years old.
Building upon a nation-wide examination of eating disorders that was carried out for Dar Kenn Għal Saħħtek by NSO in 2012, which had examined eating disorders in the population by looking at the eating habits of men and women aged 15 to 50, the latest study examined the eating habits of young people, aged 10 to16-years old
The study was commissioned just last year, as part of the efforts to enhance the services presently offered by the Centre for the Treatment of Eating Disorders and Obesity, to over 1,500 patients.
It also found that eating disorders typically start as a diet gone wrong, as the person affected wants to lose weight and starts restricting the food they eat. This is then taken to an extreme.
Of the 6 specific types of recognised eating disorders, the most well-known and common are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder.
Thanks to the recommendations generated, namely the need to combat images of idealised beauty that give rise to body-dissatisfaction among young people, to disseminate more information and raising of awareness of eating disorders, and the need to work with primary care professionals who could be at the frontline in recognising eating disorders among young people, Dar Kenn Għal Saħħtek will also be able to plan future treatment and interventions.