children as young as eight are being sent for treatment for eating disorders in Doncaster.
More than 40 youngsters under the age of 16 been referred to specialists to be treated for anorexia nervosa since 2008.
Shocking figures obtained by The Star as part of the Your Right To Know campaign show two eight-year-old boys were referred for treatment to children and young persons’ mental health services run by the Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust.
The disorder is more often seen in girls and they make up most of the 42 patients treated over a three-year period for which figures have been mande available.
They highlight the growing pressures on children to be skinny, particularly due to the influence of celebrities they idolise.
The worrying statistics released by RDaSH are for young people who need support due to specialist eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
Some are also treated at Doncaster Royal Infirmary and the most serious cases may be admitted to an inpatient unit in Sheffield.
Most of the children treated between 2008-11 were girls aged 13-15, but there were seven aged 10-12 and five aged eight or nine.
The youngest patients in each of those years were boys aged eight or nine.
RDaSH provides support for the young people and they see patients either at home or in one of their clinics.
The numbers treated for eating disorders were: 15 in 2008-09 (12 female, three male); 14 in 2009-10 (12 female, two male); and 13 in 2010-11 (11 female, two male).
But parents are being advised to look for warning signs at an early stage so they can confront the problem before it becomes a more serious disorder.
Dr Mairead Lobban, consultant psychiatrist at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, who works with young people with eating disorders, said: “A number of factors can cause eating disorders. It affects girls and boys, however it is more common in girls.
“These factors include social pressures particularly the cultural and media pressures associated with body image, for example celebrity role models that gives a stereotype view of achievement and attractiveness.
“Other factors that may contribute to eating disorders in young people are struggling with the changes of adolescence or pressures at school or home.
“It is always better to seek help early with eating problems, so if you think your child has become over concerned with weight, calorie intake, diet or has lost significant weight, please arrange to see your GP.
“It is always better to tackle eating problems before they become an eating disorder.”