A charity is calling for more support to help young children with eating disorders after “shocking” figures highlighting the extent of the problem.

Five boys and five girls aged under 10 were among hundreds of people admitted to hospitals in West Yorkshire last year with eating disorders.

The figures – described as “worrying” by charities working with young people – come from NHS Digital.

They show that the 10 children under 10 were among 543 people of all ages to be admitted to hospitals in West Yorkshire with eating disorders in 2016-17.

A further eight children aged 10 to 12 (two boys and six girls) were also admitted, as were 36 young people aged 13 to 15 (three boys and 33 girls) and 54 aged 16 to 18 (four boys and 50 girls).

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Matt Blow, policy manager for Young Minds, a charity working with children with mental health issues, said: “It is worrying that so many young children are being hospitalised with eating disorders, and it is crucial that they get the support that they need.

“Early intervention must also be a priority, so that children get help when problems first emerge, before their conditions escalate.

“The government introduced ambitious new waiting time targets for community care for eating disorders in 2015 and it is vital that these targets are met.”

While a shocking number of very young people were being treated in hospital for these disorders, many older people in our region were also affected.

Some 27 people aged 61 to 80 (four men and 23 women) were hospitalised in West Yorkshire with an eating disorder last year as were seven women over the age of 81.

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Across all ages, anorexia was the most common form of eating disorder that saw sufferers being hospitalised, making up 42% of the total.

A further 25% were admitted to hospital with bulimia, while the remainder had other forms of eating disorders such as binge-eating, purging and night eating syndrome.

Women and girls made up 92% of all cases of people hospitalised with an eating disorder in our region.

Across England, the number of people being admitted to hospital with eating disorders totalled 14,275 in 2016-17 – the highest on record and almost twice the number for 2010-11, when there were 7,431 admissions.

Experts said this did not necessarily mean the number of people suffering from an eating disorder has risen so sharply.

Tom Quinn, the director of external affairs at eating disorder charity Beat, said: “Hospital admissions for eating disorders only show the tip of the iceberg and so cannot be used to establish whether the number of people with an eating disorder is increasing or decreasing. Many others will be either undiagnosed, receiving outpatient treatment or no treatment at all.

“The rise in admissions could show an increase in awareness or bed availability, but we are concerned that more people are accessing this intensive treatment, reserved usually for the most severe cases, as it could indicate that outpatient treatment provision is not strong enough.”