Japan Data

Pandemic Stress Leads to Rise in Anorexia Cases Among Children in Japan

Health Society

A survey in Japan found that the number of children diagnosed with anorexia rose significantly during the pandemic.

A survey conducted by the National Center for Child Health and Development found that the number of patients aged under 20 who were diagnosed with anorexia nervosa remained high during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by abnormally low body weight, caused by behaviors such as refusal to eat or by vomiting after overeating.

The center carried out the questionnaire-style survey at 30 medical institutions across Japan between April and May 2022. It asked about the number of patients diagnosed with anorexia at their first outpatient visit and 24 valid responses were received.

In fiscal 2019, there were 203 patients (18 boys and 185 girls) diagnosed with this condition. The next year, in 2020, when the pandemic started, this figure sharply increased to 318 (27 boys and 291 girls) and in 2021 stayed at a similarly high level of 323 (37 boys and 286 girls). Although the number of valid responses differed, the same trend could be seen in how many patients were newly admitted to hospital with the same condition.

According to the center, “it’s possible they were affected by the stress of changes in living conditions, anxiety over contracting COVID-19, and reports in the media on how to prevent weight gain during the pandemic.” The center went on to recommend that family members and educational institutions watch out for children having less appetite or losing weight and to get them medically checked before the condition becomes serious.

Number of First Time Anorexia Outpatients

Number of New Anorexia Inpatients

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

children children's story COVID-19