On February 25, 2009, a coalition of groups working to prevent, educate and eliminate eating disorders will convene in Washington, DC in support of the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (FREED ACT). This bill was sponsored in 2008 by Representative Patrick Kennedy and supported by the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC). The aim of the bill is to make eating disorders a national health priority. Representative Kennedy will be introducing the bill again, with the support of the EDC this year. Previous bills have been introduced in the House, especially by eating disorder awareness champion Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL). That bill, the Eating Disorders Awareness, Prevention, and Education Act of 2005, would have allowed funding to:
(1) improve identification of students with eating disorders;
(2) increase awareness of such disorders among parents and students; and
(3) train educators with respect to effective eating disorder prevention and assistance methods.
The Press Conference and Briefing on February 25, 2009 is free to the public. Check out the EDC website for more information, including the location. By the way, the EDC was a strong proponent of mental health parity and we here at Sprout Yoga LOVE THAT! They also have sponsored congressional briefings on the intersection of America’s obsession with beauty and eating disorders, relying on epidemiologists and other community health experts. Go to: http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/briefingSeptember2008.htm for more information. Or you can check out the Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness at http://www.eatingdisorderinfo.org/Home/tabid/944/Default.aspx#Coalition.
Other great information is available here: http://www.freedfoundation.org/
For information on state based FREED Acts, check out this link: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/p.asp?WebPage_ID=840
So why is the FREED Act so important?
As the EDC describes it, the FREED Act is “A comprehensive eating disorders bill conceptualized and drafted with input from dozens of eating disorder organizations around the country. Among the many initiatives this bill will address include: creating Centers of Excellence to fill the current gap in eating disorders research, improving training of health and school professionals to appropriately identify and respond to eating disorders, and requiring insurance companies to reimburse for eating disorders treatment on par with physical illnesses.”
The bill also provides funding for comprehensive research, including the collection of data on the prevalence of eating disorders, the death rates, and the economic cost to our communities from these disorders. This data is crucial not only for public health officers to understand how to prepare a response, but also for those involved in treating ED.
But here’s what is so vitally important about this bill: It would require that any insurer that provides health care coverage be required to provide coverage for eating disorders. A Chance to Heal (www.achancetoheal.org) reports the story of one of its founders, and notes that “Health insurance over the last twenty years has drastically reduced the average stay for inpatient eating disorder treatment from the optimum of 7-10 weeks to as few as one week of inpatient care. Once inpatient care is terminated, outpatient care must take over. Recovery on an outpatient basis, however, requires frequent, consistent sessions with a psychotherapist and, ideally, with an entire therapeutic team including a Nutritionist, Psychiatrist, and Physician. Slowing treatment down due to lack of funds is likely to compromise the recovery progress and promote the disease process.”
The FREED Act would also provide that insurers would be required to follow standards of care written by the American Psychiatric Association. These standards of care would take the issue of where the treatment is provided to the ED sufferer from the insurer to the insured, allowing for individual variables such as age, sex, ability to manage severity or comorbidity, family experience and staff expertise.
The FREED Act would also provide grants for educating and training all health professionals to identify, prevent and appropriately treat ED, and for educating and training educators by relying on evidence based education programs about eating disorders. This training for educators involves more than teachers, it also includes cooks, school nurses, counselors and coaches.
Finally, the FREED Act would provide funding for much needed public service announcements (PSAs). The presence of PSAs running on radio and tvs in the same mix as commercials for diet products and commercials involving dangerously thin women hawking products cannot be underestimated in terms of the positive impact these PSAs could have.
Eating Disorders affect so many women and men in this country, some estimates are as high as 24 million people in the US alone. Its time to get serious, its time to get angry, and its time to do something. Let’s start a revolution of loving our bodies, and loving each other enough to help others to love their bodies. A revolution of ease with the physical house YOU reside in.
The FREED Act was introduced on February 25, 2009 as H.R.1193. There is no currently similar bill in the Senate. The bill as of May 4, 2009, has been assigned to committees and no further action has been taken. The more cosponsors a bill has, the more likely it is to get a hearing and ultimately move out of committee for a floor vote. You can help by calling your representatives and letting them know you are interested and care about this bill. For a list of cosponsors, click here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d111:1:./temp/~bdDT0O:@@@P|/bss/111search.html|
Yoga is being taught in more schools across the country, and research has shown that yoga helps infuse its students with a healthier body image. Yoga can help prevent eating disorders, when done in conjunction with other educational programs. Get the house to MOVE on this bill and get the revolution started.