Recently I had the special opportunity to participate in the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) Lobby Day in Washington, DC. EDC is an advocacy organization for people with eating disorders whose mission is to improve the recognition of eating disorders as a public health priority at the federal and state level. Lobbying is something people can do to try to influence and educate government leaders about policies on certain issues.
This was my first time lobbying and I was very excited to learn more about it alongside adolescent doctors and researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health.
During our visit to the Capitol, we met with Members of Congress and asked for their support in passing the FREED (Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders) Act. The FREED Act has three goals: increase research, provide education, and increase access. If this Act is passed, we hope that doctors and people who do research will be able to really understand, prevent, and treat eating disorders. Also, other people like teachers and coaches will be better educated to prevent, identify, and treat eating disorders. Most importantly, this Act will allow people who already have eating disorders to receive better care in order to recover and live healthy lives.
In order to convince our Members of Congress that this was an important Act to pass, we educated them about eating disorders. We shared with Congress that according to the EDC, at least 30 million Americans suffer from eating disorders. One of the eating disorders we discussed was Anorexia. Anorexia is a complex mental illness that can cause a lot of health problems and needs treatment in order to get better. EDC research has proven that eating disorders can be successfully treated with the right specialized care. It is so important to raise awareness because only 1 in 10 individuals with eating disorders actually receives appropriate treatment.
I was very proud to represent Boston Children’s Hospital and join The Eating Disorder Coalition to advocate for individuals with eating disorders. It is so important for eating disorders to become a public health priority at both the federal and state level.
If you have an issue that you think is of public interest, take a look around and find out if there is an opportunity to lobby or educate government leaders. By educating and informing our policy makers about issues such as eating disorders, they will be better equipped to make informed decisions.
If you are interested in learning more about eating disorders feel free to check out the CYWH Eating Disorder Guide.