Denver doctors trying to ‘wrap their heads around’ surge in eating disorders among area teens

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — There’s growing concern about the number of teens in the metro area struggling with eating disorders during the pandemic.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, its helpline has experienced a 40% spike in overall call volumes since March 2020.

When you break down the numbers over the last year, you’ll find 35% of those callers were between the ages of 13-17.

According to the association, that’s a 30% spike in teens compared to the year prior to the pandemic.

Officials at Denver Health say they’re experiencing similar numbers.

”We’ve always accepted air ambulance into our hospital because we take so many patients from out of the state and out of the country. Prior to COVID happening, about 15 to 20 percent of our patients were air ambulanced into Denver Health. Since COVID we’ve seen that number jump up to 60% of our patients get air ambulanced in,” said Jeana Cost, Executive Director of the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders at Denver Health.

ACUTE serves as an ICU of sorts. It’s a one-of-a-kind facility treating people struggling with eating disorders.

It has 30 beds for patients, but according to Cost, all of the beds are full and there’s even a waiting list.

”Not only are people needing an eating disorder treatment so much more than they were a year ago, but they’re needing an ICU because they’re that ill. These people are coming in on gurneys, they can’t lift their heads off their beds, they need physical therapy on a daily basis just to be able to walk again. Things like that,” Cost said.

Anyone struggling with an eating disorder during the pandemic can reach out to the ACUTE Center for help or additional resources.

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