According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, hospital admissions for eating disorders increased by 84% from 2017 to 2022, and considering the medias glorification of mental illness, this number will continue to rise. The ‘y2k’ aesthetic is back in vogue, after all. 

However, this figure only represents those who have been deemed ‘sick enough’ by the system to receive treatment, but in reality, whether or not it’s psychiatrically diagnosed, disordered eating is highly prevalent and equally serious. 

Beyond the scope of the media-popularised anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, eating disorders are far from limited to this pair of diagnostic criteria, often resulting in a diagnosis of OSFED; Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders, which broadly covers any symptoms of disordered eating – a testament to the complexity of the human mind. 

‘If you can visibly notice the disorder within a person, it’s already too late’ says an A-Level student from personal experience, who wishes to remain anonymous. By the time their parents realised the severity of the situation, the student was deeply entrenched in a disordered mindset.  

So, what is the cause of this rise in eating disorders? There will never be a specific answer to this due to the complex intertwining of genetic predisposition and upbringing, but the environmental factors including the COVID-19 lockdown, current beauty standards and the state of the economy are all stressors that may contribute to the development of disordered eating habits, which are often rooted in a craving for control.