Democratic State Rep. Perry Warren has joined a state’s top doctor as well as members of a national association to put together a bill which brings awareness to eating disorders.
House Bill 531, which has received support from both sides of the aisle, would require schools to provide information annually regarding eating disorders to parents of children in grades five through 12. It’s companion, Senate Bill 730, was introduced by Republican State Senator Chuck McIlhinney.
Both the state house and senate bill would create guidelines for local school boards to pursue the development of an optional eating disorder screening program, specify training requirements for personnel and volunteers, and provide the framework for parental notification procedures in the event of a positive indication of an eating disorder.
“People, especially children, who struggle with eating disorders, need to seek, or be provided with, professional help,” Warren said. “The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery.”
In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from eating disorders at some point in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or a binge-eating disorder. In Pennsylvania, nearly 300,000 women and more than 130,000 men suffer from an eating disorder.
“Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses which impact over 30 million Americans at some point in their life,” said Kerry Donohue, the public policy manager at National Eating Disorders Association. “We know that early detection of an eating disorder can make all the difference in an individual’s recovery. By providing parents with the resources to identify eating disorders as soon as possible, this legislation has the potential to help individuals reach treatment sooner, and ultimately could save lives.”
Warren has requested a public hearing on the bill before the House Education Committee.