Rise in children having eating problems is 'concerning' according to experts at Cambridge University

Credit: ITV News Anglia

Experts on children's mental health at the University of Cambridge have said it is concerning that there has been a sharp rise in the percentage of children having problems with eating.

A survey found that 13% of kids aged between 11 and 16 are affected by this and this figure has doubled in the last four years.

Experts say this is different to being diagnosed with an eating disorder and more studies need to be done into this.

Despite a smaller increase, rates of reported difficulties with eating were higher in older age groups, which experts say is particularly concerning.

The proportion of those aged 17 to 19 with a possible eating problem rose from 45% in 2017 to 58% in 2021.

The study also showed more than half of 11 to 16-year-olds reported spending more time on social media than they meant to.

More than a quarter (29%) of six to 10-year-olds also said they had problems with sleep, as did over a third (38%) of 11 to 16-year-olds.

One in six children in England now has a probable mental health disorder, though this figure had not changed significantly since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the study showed.

In response to the study children's charities Barnardo's interim co-chief executive Lynn Perry has called on the government to roll out support at schools as a matter of urgency.