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U.S. child, teen eating disorders increase

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The number of U.S. children and teens with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa has risen sharply in recent years, researchers say.

Report author Dr. David Rosen of the University of Michigan says epidemiologic studies show the numbers of children and adolescents with eating disorders increased steadily from the 1950s onward. A recent analysis by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality says hospitalizations for eating disorders increased most sharply -- 119 percent -- for children age 12 and younger from 1999 to 2006.

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The study, scheduled to be published in the December issue of the journal Pediatrics, says approximately 0.5 percent of U.S. adolescent girls have anorexia nervosa, approximately 1 percent to 2 percent meet diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa, and as many as 5 percent to 10 percent of all cases of eating disorders occur in males.

Athletes and performers, particularly those who participate in sports and activities that reward a lean body -- such as gymnastics, running, wrestling, dance or modeling -- may be at particular risk of developing partial-syndrome eating disorders, the study says.

"The etiology of eating disorders is multifactorial and there is increasing evidence from both family and twin studies for a strong genetic component that is shared between anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa," the study says.

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