By SHAUN MILNE
MORE young Scots girls than ever are developing eating disorders, worried health chiefs warned yesterday.
And they identified Lothian as the worst hit area.
Records show as many as nine people are being treated for anorexia there alone.
The worrying stats come just days after it was revealed Scotland’s first 12-bed eating disorder unit is to be based at St John’s Hospital in Livingston.
Scottish Government figures revealed that 444 people were last year discharged from hospital after being diagnosed as “malnourished”.
Dr Fred Pender, a research fellow at Edinburgh University, said celebrity fashion and deprivation could be among the key factors involved.
He added: “We have noticed quite a rise in the number of girls who are suffering from anorexia.
“The worrying thing is we are seeing it happen at a younger age than ever before.”
While the actual age levels haven’t yet been disclosed, he said of the likely cause: “They see these celebrities and want to emulate them.”
While deprivation can be linked to poor overall health, it isn’t likely that people in poverty would be eating such small amounts that they would lose weight suddenly.”
“Anyone who loses five to 10 per cent of their body weight in three months is considered malnourished.”
Lynne Douglas, associate director for Allied Health Professionals at NHS Lothian, said the area was well placed to deal with cases, adding: “We have implemented a malnutrition screening tool to identify patients at risk.
“Then a personal nutrition care plan is put in place.”
But Lothian Conservatives MSP Gavin Brown said more had to be done to tackle the problem further.
He said: “The figures are worrying and need to be acted upon as a matter of urgency.
“Experts in this field need to be engaged by this Government so that the situation can be turned around.”