Eating Misery of 'Hothouse' Girls; Top Schools Blamed

Article excerpt

GIRLS at top Midland schools are falling victim to devastating eating disorders in their quest for perfection, experts have revealed.

The 'hothouse' atmosphere of leading schools is being blamed for leaving pupils more vulnerable to eating problems than lower-achieving girls.

The fears have emerged a week after teenagers completed their GCSE and A-level examinations and face an anxious wait for results.

One headteacher at a top Birmingham grammar school said up to ten per cent of pupils had 'lower level' eating problems.

Miss Elspeth Insch, of King Edward VI Handsworth (Girls), the city's top-achieving state school, said she was concerned many of her pupils' parents were successful professionals who worked long hours and did not have the time to ensure their daughters ate a proper meal each night.

Mrs Diane Cook, clinical nursing specialist in eating disorders at the Woodbourne Priory Hospital, Edgbaston, has encountered star pupils weighing just five stone and said girls were under more pressure than ever to succeed.

Mrs Cook, who regularly visits city schools, said there was a dangerous link between the drive for academic excellence and the quest for an impossibly thin body.

She said: 'Girls are working incredibly hard, far more so than boys and often harder than they actually need to. …