The Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action (“EDC”)
announced last week that 65 bipartisan Members of both the U.S. Senate and House
of Representatives sent letters to the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”)
urging that questions about eating disorders be re-included within the
CDC national surveillance systems such as the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavioral
Surveillance System. In 2015, the CDC and state stakeholders voted to
remove the mandatory eating disorders surveillance questions. According
to the EDC, “No CDC surveillance systems with youth or adults include
eating disorders surveillance. Consequentially, eating disorder researchers
and public health experts across the nation were left with only outdated
and piecemeal data to help shape public health programs, identify emerging
warning signs and symptoms, and discover highly affected communities and
groups such as boys and men, Native Americans, and veterans.” At
EDC’s Advocacy Day on October 5, 2017, advocates from across the
country gathered on Capitol Hill and spoke to Members of Congress and
their staff about the need for the CDC to re-include questions about eating
disorders in their surveillance systems. It worked!
The Senate letter was led by Senators Tammy Baldwin [D-WI], Elizabeth Warren
[D-MA], Shelley Moore Capito [R-WV], and Amy Klobuchar [D-MN], and supported
by thirteen of their Senate colleagues. The House of Representatives letter
was led by Rep. Markwayne Mullin [R-OK] and Rep. Ted Deutch [D-FL] and
received support from an additional 46 bipartisan Representatives.. Both
letters were addressed to Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the Director of the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
The letters advised Dr. Fitzgerald that the data regarding the number of
Americans affected by eating disorders is outdated because it was gathered
over ten years ago. The letter stated, “Unfortunately, the national
data needed to fully understand the prevalence and trends of this disease
and to improve prevention and treatment efforts do not currently exist.
Accordingly, we urge you to consider including questions related to eating
disorders in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) national
surveillance surveys to help improve the lives of people affected by these
deadly conditions. Improving data collection on eating disorders is particularly
important given the high mortality rates...Increased hospitalizations
for eating disorders and increased prevalence among men indicate that
this public health issue is growing in significance and affecting new
populations...” The letters also addressed the need to identify
regions and communities that may be disproportionately affected by eating
disorders, and determine whether specific groups (i.e.: veterans or military
families) may need specialized prevention efforts and treatments. The
EDC hopes to have a response from the CDC by mid to late November 2017.
We will keep you posted!
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