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Anorexia 'more common' than previously thought

Anorexia nervosa is more common and more short-term than experts had previously thought, according to a new study.

The condition is a widespread, generally severe but also transient illness for which the outcome is often good, scientists from Columbia University and the University of Helsinki in Finland suggest.

They found that up to 70 per cent of women suffering from the disorder recover before they reach the age of 30.

Published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the findings show that 2.2 per cent of young Finnish women have anorexia but when milder forms of self-starvation and obsessive anxiety about weight were included, this figure rose to five per cent.

According to the researchers, only half of women suffering from the condition were recognised by healthcare professionals and even fewer received treatment.

The average duration of the illness was three years and a quarter of women recovered within a year.

Although anorexia nervosa predominantly affects women's health, with 90 per cent of cases being female according to the NHS, it also affects men's health.

Elderly face growing mental health problems

A study has revealed that more than 3.5 million over-65s in Britain have a mental health problem, and many of them do not have the support or understanding to help them through it.

The report, from the UK Inquiry into Mental Health and Well-Being in Later Life, indicated that a large proportion of the elderly population were suffering from conditions such as dementia, depression, alcohol abuse, schizophrenia, and stress.

The four-year study also showed that two-thirds of those with problems fail to discuss it with their GP due to a fear of stigmatism and ageism, and that conditions would continue to worsen unless immediate action was taken. It suggested that by 2021, 15 per cent of older people would be suffering from a mental health problem.

The enquiry chair, Dr June Crown, said: 'Mental health problems in later life are often preventable and treatable, and action to improve the lives of older people who experience mental health difficulties is long overdue.'

Last week, health minister Ivan Lewis said that approximately 600,000 people suffering from dementia are being failed by the NHS and local healthcare authorities. He added that a new campaign will be launched to help remove the stigma of mental health in the elderly.