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Girls as Young as Five Treated for Eating Disorders

Onoky Photography for Veer

This week in sad news: according to the UK’s Telegraph, the British National Health Service (NHS) released statistics that found 2,100 children younger than 16 were treated for eating disorders in the past three years—and 197 of those cases occurred in children aged five to nine. Yikes.

Plus: What to Know About Tweens and Anorexia

Young children internalizing images of thin celebrities in the media is to blame, said Susan Ringwood, CEO of eating disorders charity B-eat: "Girls see the pictures in magazines of extremely thin women and think that is how they should be."

Plus: Life-size Barbie Shows Doll’s Unrealistic Proportions

Her charity conducted research with the Brownies Girl Guides (similar to our Girl Scouts) and found that girls, some as young as seven, who looked at outline drawings of women thought the thinner ones were happier and more popular than the larger ones.

But Dr. Rachel Bryant-Waugh, Head of the Eating and Feeding Disorders service at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, said models and celebrities are "rarely" a contributing factor, and that children who visit hospitals because of low weight or eating issues could be "for a variety of reasons, and not because they have [a] formal eating disorder."

Plus: How NOT to Talk to Girls

What do you think—is the media's obsession with thinness to blame here? If not, what do you think is leading 5-year-olds to starve themselves