Warren, Levine, advocates spotlight bill to help schools, parents communicate over eating disorders (w/Video)

HARRISBURG, June 6 – State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, Pennsylvania Physician General Rachel Levine and members of the National Eating Disorders Association spotlighted Warren’s bill to bring awareness to eating disorders during a Capitol news conference today.

House Bill 531, which has received bipartisan support, would require schools to annually provide information regarding eating disorders to parents with children in grades 5 through 12. Its companion in the Senate, S.B. 730, was introduced by state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, and also has bipartisan support.

Additionally, both bills would create guidelines for local school boards to pursue the optional development of an eating-disorder screening program, specify training requirements for personnel and volunteers, and provide the framework for parental notification procedures in the event of a positive indication of an eating disorder.

“People, especially children, who struggle with eating disorders, need to seek, or be provided with, professional help,” Warren said. “The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery.” 

“Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder are serious conditions that can lead to significant, even life threatening, medical complications,” Levine said. “Treatment involves a multi-disciplinary team, and the vast majority of young people will eventually recover, although some medical complications can persist into adulthood. The prevention and early detection of eating disorders are significant goals that we should all work toward.”

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from eating disorders at some point in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or a binge-eating disorder. In Pennsylvania, nearly 300,000 women and more than 130,000 men suffer from an eating disorder.

"My eating disorder was all consuming and very isolating,” said Emily Rosenberg, a NEDA advocacy intern, Pennsylvania resident and eating disorder survivor. “I struggled on my own at times due to lack of awareness of what all eating disorders look like. Parents and educators need to understand that there are many components of an eating disorder, and they are often about much more than just weight loss."

Warren has requested a public hearing on the bill before the House Education Committee. 

"Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses which impact over 30 million Americans at some point in their life,” said Kerry Donohue, the public policy manager at NEDA. “We know that early detection of an eating disorder can make all the difference in an individual's recovery. By providing parents with the resources to identify eating disorders as soon as possible, this legislation has the potential to help individuals reach treatment sooner, and ultimately could save lives."