A charity has warned that an increasing number of preteen children are being hospitalised due to eating disorders, citing concern about the impact of media images and celebrity culture.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, data from 35 NHS hospitals compiled by the Brownies and charity B-eat found that over the last three years, more than 2,100 youngsters were admitted before turning 16 - including 98 aged between five and seven.
"Children are receiving very pernicious messages," said B-eat chief executive Angela Ringwood. "Girls see the pictures in magazines of extremely thin women and think that is how they should be."
Research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry earlier in the year indicated that one in every five individuals diagnosed with eating disorders displays some form of feeding difficulty in early childhood.
B-eat stated in a report last month that there had been a 66 per cent rise in men being hospitalised with conditions such as bulimia and anorexia over the last decade.