Knesset committee discusses high rate of eating disorders

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Knesset Health Committee meets to discuss rising numbers of youth and adults suffering from eating disorders on June 5, 2023 (Noam Moshkovitz/Knesset Spokesperson’s Office)
Knesset Health Committee meets to discuss rising numbers of youth and adults suffering from eating disorders on June 5, 2023 (Noam Moshkovitz/Knesset Spokesperson’s Office)

The Knesset Health Committee discusses today the high number of youth and adults suffering from eating disorders.

According to Health Ministry statistics presented to the committee, 1,500 children and youth are diagnosed with eating disorders per year, with 30,000-40,000 women and children dealing with an eating disorder at any given time. Fifteen to 20 percent will develop a chronic disorder, and five percent will die from the disease.

To address the lack of resources for acute response and rehabilitation services, the government allocated an additional NIS 25 million in 2022 for treatment in the community and for beds for in-patient and out-patient hospital treatment.

Mentioning former model Karin Bauman, who died on May 23 at age 35 after fighting anorexia nervosa for a decade, Health Committee chair MK Uriel Busso says there is no time to waste.

“The numbers are catastrophic, and the subject must be high on the agenda of the Health Ministry. I will turn to the health minister and discuss this without delay,” Busso said.

Busso further said he would demand that the government advance a national plan to address eating disorders that would include data gathering, public education and prevention, better planning for care in the community and hospitals, improvement of waiting times for treatment, and multidisciplinary staff training.

Those who have been fighting for such a plan for years complained that little has been done.

“We are behind by a generation. Mothers are passing on this disorder to their daughters,” said Adi Barkan, founder of Simply You, an organization that monitors body perception.

“Until when will we continue to come to these committee meetings and ask the same questions over and over?” asked the mother of a child with an eating disorder.

Another mother said her daughter had been suffering for four years and weighs only 28 kilograms (62 pounds).

“We went to the hospital but they discharged her. If she had cancer, would she have been sent home like this? What are we waiting for — another case like Karin Bauman?” she asked.

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