Since the Corona crisis, more young people under the age of sixteen have been struggling with eating disorders, according to the editors of VRT TV's Pano programme.
There is even a limited group of very young teenage girls who struggle with anorexia, the Pano editors found, based on a survey of young people who have been dealing with eating disorders since the Coronavirus crisis.
The age of those who sign up for help has also been decreasing recently. For example, some children's hospitals report that the average age is between 11 and 13 years.
"Young people are increasingly mirroring the ideal image proclaimed on social media," said Koen Albregts of the Centre for General Welfare Work (CAW, Limburg). "They often get a mobile phone at a young age and create an unfortunate image of perfectionism," he added. "This has a huge impact on their mental well-being."
The Corona crisis, too, caused life to go online even more, which has also contributed to this. Many teenagers face a difficult domestic situation, and the problems increase among young people who were already vulnerable. Eating disorders are therefore strongly related to the self-image of young people.
In addition to mental problems such as anxiety, loneliness and insecurity, eating disorders often lead to conflicts with the social environment, for example with concerned parents. "Young people grow and develop their identity, but sometimes focus so hard on their appearance that they get lost in it," says Albregts.