1/3 of Israeli teens have eating disorders, Knesset told

Modeling agencies blamed for promoting unhealthy body image.

girl silhouette 88 (photo credit: )
girl silhouette 88
(photo credit: )
One out of every three teens in Israel is suffering from some form of an eating disorder, estimated one social services representative at the Knesset Public Petitions Committee. Accurate statistics, however, are not available, as MKs were quickly told that not a single public or private study has ever been conducted on the number of eating disorder cases in Israel. "This is an outrage. It speaks volumes to the amount of attention that is given to this deadly disease," said MK Sofa Landver (Israel Beiteinu), chairwoman of the committee. "Anorexia is a growing problem in Israel, all the more so because it isn't a concern that falls on the radar of many Israelis." Landver announced that she was sending a letter to the Health and Education ministries to demand that they conduct a new public relations campaign to teach teens about the dangers of eating disorders. Representatives from several top modeling agencies were also present in the committee discussion to defend their promotion of slim-framed women as the body ideal. "I have represented most of the top models in Israel today, including Bar Rafaeli," said Shai Avital, an agent with Elite Model Agency, adding, "I can tell you that none of the women who pass through my door have an eating disorder." Committee members expressed strong disbelief to Avital's statements, at which time he acknowledged that part of the problem was that he did not have the training to determine whether or not a woman had an eating disorder or was "simply naturally skinny." "This is the problem, there is not enough education on what constitutes an eating disorder," said a representative from the Education Ministry. Although schools are required to hold hour-long weekly meetings on health issues, including eating disorders, many do not do so, said the representative. Health Ministry officials also said hospitals were increasingly ill-equipped to treat the number of anorexic and bulimic patients that came through their doors. "We have several dozen beds in our Tel Aviv treatment center at the moment. Each bed is taken, and each one already has another girl waiting in line," said a Health Ministry representative.