Tuesday, May 18, 2010

EDC's Lobby Day in Washington DC

by Suzanne Rogers

The Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) had its first Lobby Day of 2010 this past April. For months, the EDC was encouraging Americans from across the county to attend Lobby Day on Capitol Hill on April 26th and 27th to advocate for the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (FREED) Act. Conceptualized in February 2009 by the Eating Disorders Coalition, the FREED Act is the first comprehensive eating disorders bill in the history of the U.S. Congress and was formally introduced in the House (HR 1193) by Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) in February of 2009. The EDC's mission is to advance the federal recognition of eating disorders as a public health priority. By surveying past and current efforts, raising visibility, advocating and educating members of Congress the EDC reaches its goals.

The FREED Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate on April 27th by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Al Franken (D-MN). The FREED Act is the first comprehensive legislative effort introduced in the Senate. The FREED Act aims to confront eating disorders by expanding federal research and improving tracking and recording of the actual numbers of people suffering and dying from eating disorders. In addition, it aims to provide training for a wide array of health professionals and educators so that they can better screen for and identify eating disorders. Moreover, the FREED Act aims to create a new patient advocacy program to help patients get proper care, along with authorizing grants for eating disorders prevention programs.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 11 million Americans suffer from eating disorders. Because eating disorders are usually undiagnosed and untreated, this number is much higher. With the FREED Act, grants would be given to social work and nursing schools, for example, to train health care providers to better identify and treat eating disorders. Moreover, the FREED Act would require the development of new methods to track the prevalence and severity of eating disorders. These are just a few of the benefits of having the FREED Act introduced to legislature.

The bill is now being reviewed by the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. While the majority of bills never make it out of committee, there is a very real possibility that the FREED Act will if each of us take the time to educate ourselves and educate others. Lastly, each of us can write to our respective representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, stressing the importance of the FREED Act as well as educating them about eating disorders.

To learn more about eating disorders, visit the following web sites:
National Institue of Mental Health (NIMH):

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA):

Academy for Eating Disorders:
Binge Eating Disorder Association:

The Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC)

To write your representative: