2% of Japanese girls have an eating disorder

Nearly 2 percent of female middle school students in Japan were found having eating disorders that require professional help in a survey in 2009 and 2010, according to health ministry data made available to Kyodo News on Tuesday.

Gen Komaki who led the ministry’s first full survey on the juvenile health problem said, “The number of potential sufferers could grow several-fold. The popular trend today that favors dieting could be endangering children.”

The survey found that 1.9 percent of girls and 0.2 percent of boys have eating disorders and are in need of therapy or advice from doctors who have expertise in both physical and mental health.

Students trying to lose weight often use laxatives, throw up food they have eaten, skip meals and work out excessively, according to the survey led by Komaki, senior researcher with the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry.

In contrast, 3.5 percent of girls and 1.3 percent of boys said they took to binge-eating eight times over four weeks or more often.

Female students with the disorder said they tend to stay up late at night or cannot enjoy eating with their families, that they are told by family members to get thinner or that nobody understands their feelings.