Date Published: 5 April 2009

National Effort to Tackle Eating Disorders

Health News from Australia.

The Butterfly Foundation will lead a new national effort to tackle eating disorders. The Rudd Government will provide $3.5 million to boost action in this area over 4 years, including $500,000 to the Butterfly Foundation to establish a National Eating Disorders Collaboration.

The new National Eating Disorders Collaboration will bring together experts to develop a coordinated national approach to eating disorders, focused on filling gaps in services, and providing information to adolescents, schools, health providers and the media.

The Collaboration will also work on the best ways to prevent eating disorders among school aged children, through promotion, prevention and early intervention.

One in 100 adolescent girls develops anorexia, and 1 in 20 develops bulimia. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, with about 15 to 20% of sufferers dying within 20 years.

Currently, services for people with anorexia and bulimia are fragmented and disjointed. Research is scarce, and the information available to people and their families is often inconsistent.

This means that these vulnerable members of our community often struggle to get the care and advice they need.

The collaboration will:

* bring together key organisations and eating disorder experts involved in mental health, public health, health promotion, education and research, as well as media experts;
* review information currently available to young people and their families on the prevention and management of eating disorders;
* identify gaps in the services and information available to people with eating disorders, and to their families;
* undertake a review of the evidence for effective promotion, prevention, and early intervention and treatment of eating disorders;
* determine the best information available to help health practitioners and other professionals treat and prevent the disorders;
* develop a website to provide clear and effective messages and resources in relation to eating disorders;
* promote evidence-based messages and information about the prevention and management of eating disorders to schools, media and health service providers;
* develop an evidence-based framework for the development of promotion, prevention and early interventions for eating disorders targeting school aged children; and
* provide evidence-based information to Government on how to progress and target effective messages around both obesity and eating disorders.

The Butterfly Foundation is a not-for-profit community organisation that convened and leads the recently established Eating Disorders Australian National Network, a coalition of leading experts in eating disorders and body image.

The Butterfly Foundation has been funded to lead the collaboration until March 2010.

The collaboration will complement the work of the Office for Youth which is focusing on issues facing young people, including body image.

While childhood obesity rightly receives lots of public attention, we can’t afford to ignore the significant number of young Australians struggling with eating disorders. This initiative is an important step towards tackling eating disorders.

The Rudd Government will provide $500,000 to the Butterfly Foundation to create the Collaboration, and invest another $3 million to build upon its work through the Preventative Health National Partnership.



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