Educators, Mental Health Officials And Community Advocates To Participate In Summit On Eating Disorders

Thomas P. Morahan

February 09, 2006

New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilitiesdelivered opening remarks at a ground-breaking summit/conference on Eating Disorders thatbrought together experts, educators, mental health practitioners, and mental health advocates.

The event, which was cosponsored by the Mental Health Association of Rockland, Dominican College, Rockland 21C, Rockland BOCES, and theRockland County Department of Mental Health, coincided with National Eating Disorders Awareness Month, directed attention to the serious damage and consequences that eating disorders can have on a person's body and overall health. It also focused on the emotional issues that can deprive people with eating disorders of a happy and productive life.

"This forumprovided the basis for professional development so that communities can develop training and community awareness strategies for this life-threatening illness," said Morahan, who secured a state grant to fund the event.

An eating disorder is an emotional and physical problem that is associated with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape. Often, a person with an eating disorder diets, exercises, and/or eats excessively. These behaviors can have serious health consequences and can even be life threatening. The three most common types of eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Each type has its own characteristics and diagnosis.

As many as 10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men in the United States struggle with eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia. It is estimated that an additional 25 million individuals struggle with binge eating disorder. Although eating disorders primarily affect people in their teens and twenties, studies have reported disorders in children as young as 6 and individuals as old as 76. Research has indicated that 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat.