The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps a close eye on the health of Americans by collecting data from individuals, hospitals, and healthcare providers. They call this “health surveillance.” The CDC’s health surveillance in communities across the country is often the only way we know when there is an outbreak of an infection, such as Zika, or rising rates of an illness, such as skin cancer, affecting one community or sometimes many communities. Collecting this information helps to keep track of trends that might either show prevention programs are working or maybe instead show that things are getting worse and the public health and healthcare communities need to respond by stepping up efforts to address the causes of illness and ensure there is treatment available to the communities in need.
This system can work really well when the right questions are asked on surveys, when the right data are counted. But the flip side of that is that if questions are not asked about a particular health issue, we really don’t know what’s happening and we might not even know a problem exists. Simply put, if you’re not counted, you don’t count. This is why STRIPED is leading a collaboration of national organizations, including the Academy for Eating Disorders, Eating Disorders Coalition, and the National Eating Disorders Association, to urge the CDC to include survey questions to track eating disorders across the country and to spot the early signs and symptoms. Once eating disorders are on the CDC’s radar and included in the agency’s national health surveillance surveys, we will be much more prepared to develop an appropriate and effective public health response.
Updates on this Initiative
The president signed the appropriations bill funding the US Dept. of Health and Human Services! The reason this is cause for celebration is that this legislation is accompanied by a congressional conference report with language urging the CDC to include eating disorders related questions on the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System Survey. See the press release here!
On Oct. 5, 2017, more than 150 advocates from across the United States congregated in Washington, D.C., and attended almost 120 meetings with members of Congress and their staff to educate them about why the CDC should start tracking eating disorders in their surveillance surveys of the nation’s health. In response to this successful advocacy effort, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have released letters to CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald urging her to begin discussions on the role the agency could play in launching national surveillance of eating disorders. These letters include an impressive 17 signatories from the Senate and 48 signatories from the House of Representatives! We are so grateful to Senators Warren, Baldwin, Capito, and Klobuchar and Representatives Deutch and Mullin for their sponsorship of these important letters. See the press release from Eating Disorders Coalition, STRIPED, and the Academy of Eating Disorders here!
Check out this fact sheet to learn more.
News about this project
Check out more news about the CDC Eating Disorders Monitoring Project