Advocacy and Eating Disorders
I spent the weekend attending the 2010 MEDA Conference: Getting Unstuck: Revitalizing the Prevention and Treatment of Eating Disorders. The closing keynote speaker was Kitty Westin, a woman who’s daughter commit suicide as a consequence of her eating disorder. Kitty has turned her grief into activism and has committed her life to advocacy for the research, prevention, and treatment of eating disorders.
She informed us that on 4/27/10 a monumental bill called the FREED Act was introduced into legislation. The Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (FREED) Act is the first comprehensive legislative effort introduced in the Senate to confront the seriousness of these diseases by:
*improving training and education of treatment providers
*improving surveillance and data collection to track prevalence and severity of eating disorders
*facilitating eating disorders prevention through grants
*providing more opportunities for affordable care.
Eating disorders are devastating illness. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses and the suicide mortality rate of people suffering from anorexia and bulimia is 23 times that of the general population. As a dietitian who works almost exclusively with eating disorders, I urge you to contact your local congressman and advocate for their support of this bill. I did so and it took approximately 5 minutes. Those 5 minutes may result in the passing of a law that radically opens doors for better research and treatment of these debilitating illnesses.