Children as young as 12 are now seeking help for serious eating disorders across Ireland.
A shocking new report by the Eating Disorder Centre Cork (EDCC) also revealed that boys appear chronically less willing to present for help than girls.
Incredibly, more than 33pc of those now attending the EDCC are aged between 15 and 20.
However, people in their 60s have also presented for help.
It is now estimated that up to 5pc of Ireland’s population are affected by eating disorders of various kinds.
Alarmingly, anorexia nervosa – the best-known and most feared of all eating disorders – has the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition in Ireland.
The report, prepared with the support of the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health, outlined a vast range of ages for those now presenting for help for eating disorders.
Researcher Dr Cormac Sheehan noted that a startling 89pc of EDCC respondents were female.
“So it could be that men are less willing to come forward (over eating disorders),” he said.
The long-term costs of such disorders range from the physical health of the person involved through to the economic factors in terms of time off from school and work, as well as the fall-out for concerned family members.
The report was compiled through surveys, conducted on an anonymous basis, with those attending EDCC services.
On average, around 70 people are now attending weekly support services.