MK: Ministry failing to combat eating disorders
At Israeli Association of Eating Disorders conference, lawmaker/physician estimates that 330,000 Israelis suffer from some type of problem.
Kadima MK Rachel Adatto Photo: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
Part of the challenge in coping with the increasing number of eating disorders
is that the Health Ministry has not compiled a registry of patients treated
around the country, and all figures are estimates, said outgoing MK Rachel
Adatto on Monday.
She was a speaker at the two-day second international
conference of the Israeli Association of Eating Disorders, which opened at
Jerusalem’s Ramada Hotel and was attended by 300 participants, a third of them
Adatto, a member of The Tzipi Livni Party who was previously
part of Kadima, was too low on the list to get reelected to the 19th
She spoke on her last day as an MK.
medical administrator and lawyer by profession, Adatto initiated – and pushed
through the 18th Knesset – a law that prevents the use of presenters or models
in advertisements who are anorexic, and requires any images that have been
photoshopped to carry an acknowledgement that they are not genuine
Adatto, who worked on the law for two-and-a-half years, said that
according to estimates, 330,000 Israelis will be confronted with one of several
types of eating disorders.
Every year, an estimated 1,500 new cases are
diagnosed, 90 percent of them among women and girls.
Adatto said the law
had to undergo many hurdles, including opposition from the Justice Ministry,
which initially argued that it violated the principle of freedom of
At the conference, experts who treat eating disorder patients
of all ages said that the victims are younger than ever – some have not even
reached adolescence – but that there are also older women who suddenly develop
anorexia, bulimia and other eating problems.
Nevertheless, in the entire
country, there are only 60 hospital beds available for children and teens, and
another 35 for adults at centers that treat the disorder, which can be
Dr. Yitshak Vorgaft, the director of the eating disorder sub-unit
at Ziv Hospital in Safed who will soon be stepping down as head of the Israeli
Association for Eating Disorders, noted that “the problems represent a wide
range of psychological, medical and sociological issues, changes in the
cognitive understanding of self, roles we play, perception of beauty and
success, gender definition and the accelerated role of the media in our
Prof. Eytan Bachar will replace Vorgaft as head of the
Among the topics being discussed in lectures at the event
was research that found the trigger for anorexia or bulimia in some girls and
women was sexual abuse – usually by a relative – in childhood. But even these
traumatic cases can be treated, the researchers found.
A Health Page
feature on the conference will appear on Sunday, February 17.