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National Conference Aims to Increase Awareness of Eating Disorders
from Eating Disorders Review
A national conference held in Washington, DC, in mid-April will attempt to increase awareness of eating disorders by creating a national agenda on eating disorders.
The conference, “Creating a National Eating Disorders Agenda: Integrating Research, Policy & Practice,” to be held April 15-16 at the Holiday Inn—Washington, DC on the Hill, will enable participants to create recommendations for national public policies to meet the challenges posed by eating disorders. Dr. David Herzog, head of the Harvard Eating Disorders Center, Boston, and program committee chairman and president of the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action (EDC), said one goal of the conference is to create a national dialog on policy recommendations by addressing eating disorders as a true public health concern.
Mark Herron, Executive Director of the EDC, said that the conference will bring together experts from the eating disorders community and numerous groups who often lobby for mental health, in addition to federal legislators and policy groups.
The conference is sponsored by the EDC, which is headquartered in Washington, DC. This group’s mission is to educate Congress and the federal government about the growing public health threat posed by eating disorders. One example is their sponsorship of periodic Congressional Briefings in the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. For example, last December Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-Me) were co-sponsors for a briefing, “American Realities: The Changing Face of Eating Disorders.” At this briefing, speakers representing non-stereotypical client populations made the point that eating disorders affect a wide variety of Americans, young and old, male and female, and affect all ethnic groups. Other briefings have focused on inadequate insurance, lack of access to care, and the role of Congress in preventing eating disorders. Members include a broad representation from organizations such as the National Eating Disorders Association, the Anna Westin Foundation, Dads and Daughters, the National Eating Disorders Association, the Renfrew Center, and Remuda Ranch
Awards Dinner and Program
Evening Guest Speaker
Better Insurance Coverage a Goal
To address the gaps in treatment, the Coalition is working to pass the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act (S. 1832), which would require insurers to cover mental illness in the same way that they cover physical illnesses. Currently, insurers can set limits on the number of sessions covered. The Coalition also is working to urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop more accurate statistics on mortality rates for eating disorders. According to Jeanine Cogan, PhD, past director of the Coalition, and currently its principal investigator, the figures are underreported because death certificates don’t cite eating disorders as a cause of death.
Executive Director Marc Lerro said that the group plans to post a final report summarizing the results from the conference on the Internet. He added that the report frm the conference will be available for purchase later in print form and on CD-ROM.