Opinion: Federal government must monitor, address eating disorders

The COVID-19 pandemic has cut off sources of care and support for people with eating disorders and, as a result, many are experiencing worsening symptoms, according to a recent op-ed in The Hill co-authored by S. Bryn Austin, professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders: A Public Health Incubator (STRIPED).

Austin and her co-authors called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government agencies to do more to tackle this growing problem. They noted in the July 22, 2020 op-ed that the CDC leads no national data collection effort to monitor eating disorder symptoms or cases and that National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for eating disorder research amounts to just $1 per affected person.

Earlier this summer, STRIPED released a report calculating that eating disorders cost the U.S. economy $64.7 billion each year through health care, lost productivity, and other costs.

Read The Hill op-ed: Eating disorders cost US $65 billion a year: Here’s what agencies can do