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Eating disorder prevention, intervention gets boon in Illinois

Posted Dec 03 2008 10:59am

Earlier this summer I reported on Illinois’ House Bill 1432, which mandates health insurance companies to pay for the treatment of anorexia and bulimia. Now another new program offers help to the estimated 1.1 million Illinoisians with an eating disorder.

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) and volunteers from Chicago-based Timberline Knolls have teamed up to launch NEDA’s STAR (States for Treatment, Access and Research) program in the Prairie State. The program, billed as the first of its kind in the state, lobbies for improved access and treatment for eating disorders by working with state lawmakers, the community and by developing a grass-roots effort to increase eating disorders awareness. The program is a timely one, says Lynn Grefe, NEDA CEO.

“Nationally, the incidence of bulimia in women ages 10 to 39 has tripled between 1988 and 1993, and continues to grow,” said Grefe. “For young women with anorexia, the mortality rate is 12 times higher than the death rate for all other diseases, including cancer.”

According to NEDA, there are as many as 10 million females and 1 million males in the United States fighting a life and death battle with anorexia or bulimia and another 25 million with binge-eating disorder. Over the years these numbers have continued to rise, along with the stigma and lack of awareness of eating disorders.

NEDA STAR Illinois coordinator Colleen Kula says that while HB 1432 added anorexia and bulimia to the state’s mental health parity act, early intervention programs are “virtually non-existent” in Illinois. The STAR initiative will help promote much-needed early intervention and prevention programs across the state.

For more information or to join NEDA STAR’s efforts, contact Colleen Kula at 312-613-5715 or email at

Cross-posted on

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