CDC Eating Disorders Health Monitoring Project

Advocacy Victory!

On July 31, 2020, U.S. House bill H.R. 7617, the major federal budget bill, passed, moving us one step closer to getting eating disorders questions included in the national YRBSS and BRFSS health surveys led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). H.R. 7617 combines six separate FY2021 spending bills including the Labor, Health & Human Services (LHHS) and Education appropriations bill. STRIPED successfully advocated for the inclusion of language within the LHHS spending bill requesting that CDC include disordered eating behavior questions within their youth and adult health surveillance system surveys. This language officially passed the House on July 31 and will be considered by the Senate later this year. You can be sure that STRIPED will keep on pushing for the inclusion of eating disorders in our national health monitoring system till we cross the finish line!

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.