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Eating disorders worsening during pandemic, hospitalizations in Calgary doubled

Last Updated Apr 18, 2021 at 7:38 pm MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – Eating disorders are the mental illness with the highest mortality rate. One in 10 Canadians who suffer from self-inflicted starvation, bulimia, and binge eating will die – and now the pandemic is worsening behaviours, and causing more people to take them up.

“I think we’re seeing bigger numbers than we’re used to since the pandemic started,” said Cendrine Tremblay, co-founder of the Silver Linings Foundation in Calgary, an organization supporting those with eating disorders.

“Hospitalizations have doubled. If you look at spring 2019 to spring 2020, it was a 200 per cent increase and we’re expecting to continue seeing these numbers rise.”

READ MORE: Experts say eating disorders have spiked during COVID-19 pandemic

She says the lockdowns and tighter restrictions are disrupting routines. People may be skipping meals, or binging with no oversight, and things like restaurants opening and closing may have also impacted a steady routine.

“You’re at home, you’re stuck with food. Some people decided to diet and it got out of control,” Tremblay explained.

But she says there are ways you can intervene if you’re noticing someone developing an eating disorder.

“(Be) really honest and say, ‘hey I’m noticing this, and I know this is difficult. How about we get together on Zoom to have lunch or dinner,’ so you’re supporting them with meals and making sure they don’t skip them.”

Tremblay says she and her peers are advocating for a treatment centre for eating disorders in southern Alberta.