Children as young as 10 have been treated in west Herts for the eating disorder anorexia.
Figures revealed by West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust show three 10-year-olds – two girls and a boy – have been admitted.
In the five years to 2011, 11 children under the age of 18 required hospital admission and between 2002 and 2006 a further 16 needed treatment.
Fashion designer and model April Banbury, left, from Hemel Hempstead, has admitted she had anorexia from the age of eight until she was 16.
“I was very, very ill but I was never hospitalised,” she said. “That’s possibly the worst you can get. I do think that with a lot of children these days it’s become a common thing, with magazine articles saying you should be a certain size.
“As much as you say to young girls: ‘You don’t have to look like that’ they don’t believe it. They will see celebrities and think it’s acceptable and want to be like that.
“I don’t think there’s enough help out there.”
Of the 27 children admitted in west Herts, 23 were girls and four were boys. Fortunately none of them died.
According to charities the UK has the highest rate of eating disorders and self harm in Europe.
Statistics show one in 100 women has been diagnosed with an eating disorder and it is estimated that up to 13 million people have psychological issues or problems connected with food that often leave them on a permanent diet.