Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I—Pulaski) today said he supports legislation that would help identify children with early-stage eating disorders. These bills would also establish an eating disorders awareness and prevention program within the Department of Health, similar to what other states have created.
“More and more research indicates that early identification and intervention for eating disorders can prevent the development of severe and long-term illness,” said Barclay. “It’s important that our state be proactive to help kids who are struggling with a problem and those who exhibit early signs.”
Left untreated, eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating can damage the brain, liver, kidneys, GI tract, teeth, skin, hair, bones and heart. Legislation Barclay supports would develop media health promotion campaigns targeted toward children, adolescents and parents to raise awareness about eating disorders and provide information and resources. It would establish a school-based eating disorders awareness and prevention program and develop training for health professionals about the appropriate treatment for patients and families. It also would require that mandated annual exams screen students for eating disorders.
“I hope this legislation gives health providers and parents tools to handle and decide how to treat what has become the third most common chronic illness among adolescents. In American high schools, it is estimated that 30% of girls and 16% of boys suffer from disordered eating including bingeing, vomiting, fasting, laxatives and diet pill use, and compulsive exercise,” said Barclay.
The National Eating Disorders Association reports that females who suffer from anorexia, the mortality rate associated with the illness is 12 times higher than the death rate of all other causes of death. For information, visit the National Eating Disorders Association Web site. For a pdf guide titled Toolkit for Parents, visit