Overview of Eating Disorder Treatment for Children in Australia

It is estimated that 9% of the population of Australia has an eating disorder. Eating disorders can affect all ages, but typically peaks in adolescent years. Research on the prevalence in eating disorders in Australia show that it is the third most chronic illness among young females, and is the second leading cause of mental illness.

In adults, less than 50% recover within five years of diagnosis, but in children, evidence based treatments, such as the Maudsley Model improve recovery rates up to 70% after 12 months, and 90% after five years. Early diagnosis can improve outcomes and reduce complications such as growth retardation, impaired bone health, cognitive impairment, disruption of pubertal development, infertility, depression, anxiety, and death.

Occurrence of Eating Disorders in Australia

A national Australian study of the etiology of eating disorders provided estimates of the incidence, and needs for services of those aged 5-13 with diagnosed disorders. The study suggested that there are regional differences in diagnosis and resources. High comorbidity rates were also found which also shows the need for specialist medical and psychiatric management.

Since 2000, there has been a fourfold increase in admissions to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead’s Eating Disorder Service, and a tenfold increase in outpatient consultations. The majority of children admitted to Westmead facility are treated for anorexia, the third most common disorder affecting teen girls.

Australian treatment offers various options for treatment services. Most treatment focuses on treatment that is specifically customized to suit a person’s illness, situation and needs. A community setting is the preferred mode of treatment in Australia.

Here the focus is on health promotion, prevention, early intervention, acute illness and recovery, as well as relapse prevention. Community centers can assist an individual with access to support, information and referrals for treatment. Typically support groups, counseling services are offered in the community setting.

Article originally published by Eating Disorder Hope.