An eating disorder service is struggling to keep up with demand as the number of Kiwis needing help continues to rise.
Marion Roberts, who runs a private treatment clinic in Auckland, says demand has increased by four times since April this year.
"There are always multiple factors leading to eating disorders. The likes of COVID have definitely added to it, particularly for our teen clients."
The Eating Disorders Association of New Zealand (EDANZ) on Friday organised an urgent meeting with clinicians and health experts to discuss the unfolding crisis.
Chairwoman Nicki Wilson hopes the discussion will help address the "massive increase" in clients, which has put a major strain on already stretched services.
She says children as young as eight are having to wait weeks, sometimes months, to be seen for life-threatening eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.
"Eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia are treatable illnesses - people can get better quite quickly if they are treated early enough, but that's just not happening.
"People of all ages have ended up being hospitalised for refeeding while they wait for access to an eating disorder service."
The mortality rate for people with eating disorders is one of the highest of all psychiatric illnesses.
EDANZ, which offers phone and email services, has recorded four times as many callers to their 0800 number this year.
Dr Roberts says urgent action is needed.
"The availability of clinicians skilled and experienced to provide evidence based eating disorder treatment is drastically below what is needed to meet the demand."
EDANZ says full recovery is possible at any age and any stage, and hopes to provide clinicians and families with more support to achieve better outcomes.