EDA NI gave evidence to Stormont's Education Committee about eating disorders in children and young people.
The charity highlighted their concern that an increasing number of children and young people are developing eating disorders. In 2021, 1 in 6 support contacts were from, or about, children under 18. This figure is consistent with the Northern Ireland Youth Wellbeing Prevalence Study, which found that 1 in 6 children and young people engaged in a pattern of disordered eating and associated behaviours that might indicate the need for further clinical assessment.
In addition to discussing the increasing number of children and young people with eating disorders, EDA NI told the Committee about a worrying change in the clinical presentation among these children. They noted that it has become more common to support very young children and their parents and that the children are more reaching out with more severe illnesses than seen before.
EDA NI also described some of the themes they have noted from their conversations with children, young people and their loved ones. They often discussed stressful life events such as exams, moving schools or the COVID-19 pandemic. They also mention concerns about their future, worries about stigma and difficulties accessing care.
To hear more about the evidence given you can listen to the full oral briefing here, or you can read the BBC's coverage of the statement here.