Press Release - Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz
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The Assembly

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August 4, 2005

Ortiz Asks FX Network to Cancel Sitcom on Eating Disorders
Urges advertisers and viewers to boycott show

(Albany, NY) - Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, (Brooklyn), Chair of the Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy joined the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) in calling on the FX network to cancel the sitcom Starved about characters with anorexia and bulimia. Ortiz received an award for sponsoring the first eating disorders comprehensive treatment bill in the nation.

"This problem seems to be growing and not just among wealthy, suburban teenage girls but among men, older women, Hispanics, and other inner-city populations. That is why we created a program funded with over $1 million to provide the type of care that is needed to effectively address this deadly problem and save lives," said Ortiz.

An estimated 5,000,000 to 10,000,000 women and girls and 1,000,000 men and boys in the United States suffer from eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, as well as eating disorders that are not otherwise defined. Eating disorders can be fatal; anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders. A young woman with anorexia is 12 times more likely to die than other women her age. Many victims and families hide the disorder and quietly suffer the consequences. These conditions are only recently getting the attention they need.

In a letter to the President of FX Ortiz wrote, "One of the biggest barriers to treatment of this deadly condition is the shame and stigma of those suffering, or the dangerous belief that an eating disorder can be a reasonable method to keep weight off. The new FX Networks program, Starved, does nothing but increase stigma and potentially glamorize the condition in the minds of those who do not know any better - the young viewers targeted by FX’s "edgy new shows"."

The CEO of NEDA agrees. "More than tasteless, Starved may be dangerous, leading some sufferers to identify with the characters, justify their own behavior and resist treatment. Americans wouldn’t find it acceptable to ridicule and mock people with physical disabilities or a disease like leukemia and I don’t believe they’ll find it tolerable to satirize mental illness."

Evidence of the risks of this show are already popping up on internet sites frequented by some eating disorder sufferers where their messages indicate they are anticipating getting "tips" from the show on bulimic or anorexic behaviors.

Ortiz plans to alert his fellow legislators to the danger of this show and to urge advertisers to avoid using their funding to support a show like this. "We are spending over $1 million in New York State to develop better care for those suffering from anorexia and bulimia. We do not need a major media outlet working against our efforts."