Today, Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at helping Americans struggling with the deadliest form of mental illness – eating disorders – get the care and support they need. Named the Anna Westin Act in observance of a 21-year old woman who lost her life to eating disorders, this legislation is designed help those affected with or susceptible to eating disorders by focusing on training, treatment, and truth-in-advertising. According to the National Institutes for Mental Health, approximately 10 percent of all Americans at one point or another in their lives struggle with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
“Tragically, the lack of awareness and understanding of eating disorders in our society too often leaves those who suffer alone and without treatment,” said Congressman Deutch, who last week along with Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, was recognized as the 2015 Champion for Eating Disorders by the national umbrella organization, the Eating Disorders Coalition. “The Anna Westin Act will improve training for doctors and educators, better protect patients from coverage denials, and request the FTC study the impact of the unrealistic and photoshopped body images that permeate our culture. I am proud to introduce this legislation with my friend, Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen, and am committed to advancing the efforts of activists nationwide who rightly believe we can and must do better when it comes to treating and prevent deadly eating disorders.”
“I’m proud to introduce the Anna Westin Act with my colleague and friend, Rep. Ted Deutch. It is my hope that this bill will help ensure that young men and women, along with their families, will no longer face the perils of eating disorders without the access to information and treatment they need to recover and thrive. Combined with new training for medical and school professionals, and collaborative efforts to curb advertising that have negative impacts on body image, I know we can substantially reduce the societal costs and senseless personal tragedies that stem from eating disorders.”
The Anna Westin Act helps those affected by eating disorders by focusing on training, treatment, and truth-in-advertising. The legislation directs federal health administrators to award grants that train medical professionals and educators to better recognize the early warning signs of eating disorders, clarifies that the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act requires coverage for residential treatment of eating disorders, and directs the Federal Trade Commission to study the digital manipulation of body images for advertising to determine if additional regulation is needed.
“As someone who struggled and recovered from a 10-year battle with eating disorders in the state of Florida, I am so honored that my congressman, Representative Deutch, alongside Representative Ros-Lehtinen, are championing this life-saving bill,” said Johanna Kandel, CEO of Alliance for Eating Disorders and Board President of the Eating Disorders Coalition in West Palm Beach. “With proper detection, early intervention, and necessary treatment, people can and do recover from eating disorders. Eating disorders are not a partisan issue, and The Anna Westin Act has the potential to save thousands of lives.”