New data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows a spike in the rate of youth hospitalized for eating disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The numbers show the rate of eating disorder hospitalizations in Canada was 15 per 100,000 in the two years leading up to the onset of the pandemic, and jumped to 20 per 100,000 in 2020-21.
CIHI says girls aged 10 to 17 with eating disorders were hospitalized nearly 60 per cent more following the onset of the pandemic.
The rate went from 52 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in 2019-20 to 82 hospitalizations per 100,000 in 2020-21.
The data was drawn from the Discharge Abstract Database and Ontario Mental Health Reporting System.
Dr. Leanna Isserlin, psychiatric director of the child and adolescent eating disorders program at CHEO, says the number of hospitalizations is just the “tip of the iceberg” because there are so many more patients who don’t have access to care.
She says she’s seen the spike bear out in her practice over the past two years.
“We had to redistribute our staff, we had to pull staff from other parts of the mental health-care programs, who typically would treat things like depression and anxiety or other psychiatric disorders who came to help on in our unit,” she said.