אנורקסיה הפרעות אכילה אנורקטית אנורקטי
Eating disorders
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Cases of eating disorders increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak

Eating disorders grow in COVID pandemic with months wait for treatment

According to Knesset report, the number of eating disorder cases has increased by 56% in 2021, and waiting times for treatment reached up to a year due to shortage of medical personnel

Hadar Gil-Ad |
Updated: 02.15.22, 10:53
The COVID-19 pandemic created a gap between the growing diagnosed eating disorder cases and existing treatment options, said a report by the Knesset Research and Information Center.
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  • The Health Ministry estimates that between 69,000 to 97,000 young people aged 15-24 are suffering from eating disorders, and each year, approximately 1,500 children and teenagers are diagnosed with an eating disorder.
    "The COVID pandemic outbreak in 2020 caused a simultaneous accumulation of many risk factors to develop an eating disorder, including social isolation and public's emphasis on the prevention of obesity. It is estimated that the number of eating disorder cases has increased by 56% in 2021, compared to 2019, especially among females and the general Jewish population," the report states.
    As a result of the pandemic, the gap between the number of cases and the available treatment options has increased, and left many young people without immediate treatment.
    "The ability to provide an optimal response to patients was jeopardized. In 2020, 667 patients were hospitalized with an eating disorder diagnosis, including 114 children and adolescents (17%), and 553 adults (83%). And it was reported that waiting times for treatment have been increased to at least a few months wait.
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    אנורקסיה הפרעות אכילה אנורקטית אנורקטי
    אנורקסיה הפרעות אכילה אנורקטית אנורקטי
    Eating disorders
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    There are 32 clinics across Israel where therapeutic sessions are held frequently in line with the clinical situation. 25% of them are located in the Central District, 19% in the Jerusalem District, 16% in both the northern and southern districts, and 13% in both Tel Aviv and Haifa districts. But there are no clinics south of Be'er Sheva.
    There are 17 treatment work-station for eating disorders in the hospitals, and they are for patients of all ages who can't be stabilized in the clinics and require more intensive care to avoid full psychiatric or physical hospitalization.
    In addition, there are nine medical wards in Israel that are dedicated to eating disorders, six of which are for adults and three for minors. According to the report, all hospitalization wards are full and all of them - both the dedicated ones and those who treat patients without eating disorders - have a waiting time of at least three months, as some can take up to a year or more.
    At Sheba Medical Center the eating disorder ward is full, and the waiting time is at least three months. In the Shamir Medical Center, the ward reached over 90% capacity, and the waiting time is over a year. And at Hadassah Medical Center the waiting period is between 6-12 months. Ziv Medical Center, which treats minors with eating disorders, often reaches 200% capacity, and the waiting time is between 4-6 months, Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel has a 3-6 months waiting duration, and both Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center and Soroka Medical Center have a six month waiting period.
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    Illustration, eating disorder
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    According to experts, the major missing treatment resource for eating disorders is manpower - psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, social workers, and nutritionists, who received essential dedicated expertise.
    The complexity of treatment creates a need for a professional team that works in a coordinated manner. All the clinics said in the report that they suffer from a shortage of medical personnel who specialize in eating disorders, a shortage largely caused by budget issues.
    First published: 10:50, 02.15.22
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