The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved on Sunday a private member’s bill that would allow forced hospitalization and treatment of people with anorexia and other eating disorders so doctors can try to save their lives.

MK Rachel Adatto (Kadima) initiated the bill, which will now proceed to a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum. Adatto, who is a gynecologist by profession, was asked to prepare such a bill by doctors who treat eating disorders and said they felt helpless when the adult sufferer refuses to be hospitalized.

The Kadima MK held a special conference in the Knesset auditorium recently to raise awareness of eating disorders and to promote another bill she initiated to prohibit the appearance in the media of starving models or those altered to look as if they have an underweight body mass index.

In an average year, 35 people (mostly women and girls) die of anorexia. Annually, some 1,500 Israelis are diagnosed with an eating disorder. Adatto said the vote was “the first step in halting the insufferable condition in which people starve themselves because of poor body image and the influence of the culture and media.

Currently, psychiatric patients may be hospitalized against their will if they are a danger to themselves and others, but eating disorders are not regarded by the law as a mental illness.

Some people suffering from anorexia weigh only 30 kilos in the most serious stages, but they nevertheless contend that they are “overweight.”

Thus the bill is urgently needed, said Adatto, so that doctors can attempt to get them to eat properly and save their lives in time.

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