Prevention of Eating Disorders: Train Physicians to Detect Early Signs

Eating disorders are the deadliest of all mental illnesses, affecting 24 million Americans. They lead to numerous severe and chronic health problems, and without treatment, up to 20% of people with serious eating disorders will die. The challenge lies in family, friends, and physicians to recognize this secretive disorder, and catch it before the illness has set its roots.
If doctors were appropriately trained and more perceptive to the subtle symptoms of disordered eating, they would be better equipped to intervene early. Early intervention leads to a more successful treatment outcome, alleviates critical health issues, decreases the significant financial and emotional burdens of treatment on families, and has the potential to save lives.

The Times Union, in Albany, New York, reported on a vitally important bill sponsored by Sen. Shirley Huntley and Assemblyman Peter Rivera. This bill would mandate New York Physicians to receive training on the early recognition of eating disorders by requiring physicians and physician’s assistants, who have not received education on eating disorders, to take a one- hour free online course. This is quite a simple undertaking for physicians and such a small piece of their time, for something that may protect many lives.

Sadly, the New York bill, A4413/S3142 was overlooked, and was not given the opportunity to be voted on this year.

At Kantor & Kantor, our ED clients come to us at a time when their illness is established and fixed. They have unfortunately slipped through the currently imperfect network of physicians, friends, and family who are not sensitized enough to the symptoms, or the dangers of the disease. When we finally meet them, they have progressed to a point where their illness needs immediate medical or residential treatment. Insurance coverage for treatment is too often denied, or when approved, is too limited and thus insufficient. We end up fighting daily for the fight for the health, and even the lives of our clients in a system that is simply inadequate and unfair.

Doctors should be better trained, and the general public made far more aware or how pervasive, disruptive, and even how deadly eating disorders can be. We try to do our small part in this every day.

For more information on eating disorders you can check out the website for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), by just clicking here: NEDA

NEDA has provided a helpful guide for physicians to follow when screening patients for eating disorders.

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