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U.S. Congress Launches Bi-Partisan National Eating Disorders Awareness Caucus

02-29-2012 04:05 AM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: National Eating Disorders Association

/ PR Agency: Greenleaf & Associates
NEW YORK CITY — The Congress of the United States has approved the creation of the National Eating Disorders Awareness Caucus, as announced today by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), which since 2011 has determined that it is vital to build support from the ground up in our Congress in a strong bi-partisan manner.

The mission of the newly formed caucus, chaired by Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19) and co-chaired by Nita Lowey (D-NY-18), is to increase national awareness about eating disorders and support those who suffer by seeking to enhance prevention, facilitate therapeutic advances and improve access to treatment. Cognizant of the fact that federal funding for such measures is limited in austere times, the caucus will emphasize coordination with private-sector organizations and initiatives.

The announcement comes during NEDA’s 25th annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAwareness Week), Feb. 26-March 3, part of an ongoing mission to bring public attention to the critical need to raise awareness and funding to battle eating disorders in the U.S.

Commented Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA, “The National Eating Disorders Association is most grateful to Representatives Nan Hayworth and Nita Lowey for agreeing to take on this House leadership role for our cause. They understand that this is a health issue, not a political one. By launching this congressional bi-partisan caucus, it is our hope that together we can all improve the lives of those affected by eating disorders … today and for future generations. Their work will help shine a national spotlight on legislative priorities to begin to support the millions of Americans who are suffering from these life-threatening illnesses.”

Said Hayworth, “As the only female physician member of Congress, I appreciate the unique opportunity I have to spread awareness about important health issues like eating disorders. The National Eating Disorders Awareness Caucus will support those who suffer from eating disorders by working to enhance prevention, facilitate therapeutic advances and improve access to treatment, particularly by coordinating with private-sector organizations and initiatives. I look forward to working with my co-chair, Representative Nita Lowey.”

Added Lowey, “Increasing awareness of eating disorders and improving access to prevention and treatment is critical for the physical and emotional health of women and girls, Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and I look forward to working with my colleagues to help improve body image and prevent the damage that eating disorders can cause.”

The outreach is in response to the epidemic crisis of self-confidence affecting girls and women in the U.S. and the increasing number of people suffering from eating disorders across the country. Numerous studies have found that the unrealistic, “ideal” body images presented in film and television, on the web and in magazines directly influences the development of poor self-esteem, disordered eating habits and/or full-blown eating disorders in those already at risk.

According to one recent study (Smolak, 2011), children, especially girls, by age 6 start to express concerns about their own weight or shape with 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) being concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.

According to Rader Eating Disorder Programs: A study found that adolescent girls were more fearful of gaining weight than getting cancer, nuclear war or losing their parents. While only one out of 10 high school girls are overweight, nine out of 10 high school juniors and seniors diet. In 1970, the average age a girl started dieting was 14; by 1990 the average age dropped to eight. Frequent dieting is highly correlated with depression.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Feb. 26-March 3

During NEDAwareness Week, thousands of people come together in communities across the country, hosting events to raise awareness about body image and bring national attention to the severity of eating disorders, which are mental illnesses (not lifestyle choices) with devastating, often life-threatening, consequences. While there is hope and recovery is possible – particularly with early intervention – many people suffer from the long-term effects of these illnesses.

Themed Everybody Knows Somebody in 2012, some of the many events planned for the week include presentations and health fairs in schools and on college campuses; screenings of informational films; fashion shows featuring men and women of all body types; art shows; The Great Jeans Giveaway; and NEDA Walk fundraisers.

To help promote NEDAwareness week this year, NYC’s Empire State Building will be lit in NEDA’s signature green and blue logo colors the night of Tuesday, Feb. 28, to put a spotlight on the fight against eating disorders.

For Treatment Referrals, Visit
Or Contact NEDA’s Live Helpline: 800-931-2237
Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (EST)

Greenleaf & Associates — 323-660-5800
Vicki Greenleaf —
Karen Brundage —

Available for Interviews:
• Lynn Grefe, President and CEO of NEDA.
• Doctors, psychologists & other eating disorder treatment specialists throughout the country.
• Recovered eating disorder patients.
• NEDA ambassadors.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in New York City, is the leading U.S. non-profit organization supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Each year, NEDA helps millions of people across the country find information and appropriate treatment resources through its toll-free, live helpline, its many outreach programs and website. NEDA advocates for advancements in the field and envisions a world without eating disorders. For more information, visit

National Eating Disorders Association
165 W. 46th St., #402
New York, NY 10036
Karen Brundage

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