weight loss, eating disorder_311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The lack of medical services to treat sufferers of anorexia, bulimia and other
eating disorders cause the preventable deaths of teens and adults, experts said
A daylong symposium at the Knesset organized by the Israel
Association for Eating Disorders along with Health Lobby head Kadima MK Rachel
Adatto heard that at the same time hospitals are reimbursed for only half the
expenses such units cost them, many millions are wasted in inappropriate care at
designated inpatient hospital departments and day hospital units.
woman who became anorexic as a teenager and underwent 14 short and ineffective
hospitalizations within a year cost the public purse NIS 1.2 million because she
wasn’t treated by experts, the audience of more than 200 was told. This is the
cost of running a hostel for the rehabilitation for a year of 15 young women
after hospitalization for anorexia and bulimia.
There is only one
hospital – Ziv in Safed – with inpatient departments for adults (mostly women)
suffering from eating disorders, it was said, and only two (Schneider in Petah
Tikva and Sheba in Tel Hashomer) for teens.
Dr. Yitzhak Vorgaft, head of
the Ziv department, said there are children as young as seven diagnosed with
eating disorders – mostly inspired by the fashion industry, advertising and the
With 13.4 percent of girls and 7.1% of boys in the nine- 14 age
group – totaling 215,000 children – having the potential for developing eating
disorders, action must be taken immediately, said Vorgaft.
had incentive to set up designated units, because they get only about NIS 340 per child to treat them with an interdisciplinary staff and food when it
costs them NIS 700, he said.
Vorgaft called for an amendment to the
Psychiatry Law that would enable hospital staffers to force patients with eating
disorders who were in danger of dying to get treatment. At present, they cannot
be force-fed. He said 1.2% of Israeli youths suffer from anorexia, 2% from
bulimia and 3-5% from nonspecific eating disorders.
The Health Ministry
told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that ministry director-general
Ronni Gamzu had instructed the budgeting division to look into
changing the pricing for such services.
In addition, the ministry will
offer an incentive payment of NIS 50,000 to each hospital that agrees to open
(or expand) an eating disorders clinic. He also asked four hospitals to open
such clinics in the periphery.
As for force-feeding, Gamzu said there
were many opponents in the judicial system and human rights groups to giving
treatment against the will of people who were not in psychotic conditions.
Instead, he suggested that appointing a guardian to make the decision would be
But Adatto, a gynecologist and lawyer by training, said at the
symposium that she was interested in initiating such a bill to save
She said there were two other bills now in the pipeline –
requiring those under the age of 24 to receive a prescription to buy laxatives
and monitoring websites that give advice on drastically losing weight, vomiting
out food – and others to promote awareness of anorexia and
Adatto is pushing for a second and third (final) reading of her
bill to prevent models (and their photographs) with less than an 18.5 body mass
index (indicating severe underweight) from appearing in the media, including on
In addition, images of starved models whose images undergo
Photoshop manipulation to make them look skinnier than they are would have to
have warnings stating they are not authentic.
Prof. Yael Latzer, head of
Rambam Medical Center’s eating disorders clinic, said that an international
comparison found Israeli girls and women have the highest rate in the world of
dissatisfaction with their bodies. A large percentage of them are chronically on
unsupervised weight-loss diets. This can lead to eating disorders, she
Einat Tzuberi, head of the eating disorders clinic at the Shalvata
Mental Health Center in Ra’anana, reported on her study of seven intermediate
and high schools where dance is studied. These included two high schools for the
arts, which she found were much more likely than regular schools to cultivate
the rigid thinking, perfectionism, feeling of being overwhelmed and the belief
that looks are “everything.”A feature on the symposium will appear in
the Sunday Health Page on November 27.