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.

MK Rachel Adatto 311 (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
MK Rachel Adatto 311
(photo credit: 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 from abroad.
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 Knesset.
She spoke on her last day as an MK.
A gynecologist, 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 images.
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 occupation.
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 fatal.
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 lives.”
Prof. Eytan Bachar will replace Vorgaft as head of the association.
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.