National Eating Disorders Association

NEW YORK CITY — June 28, 2018 — For Immediate Release — The Senate Appropriations Committee marked-up and advanced its FY 2019 Department of Defense Appropriations package today, once again including funds for eating disorders research for prevention, intervention and treatment programs among members of the military, under the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program’s Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP). 

In recognition of the critical needs of military members and their families suffering from eating disorders, Congress first made eating disorders eligible for funding in 2017 within the $300 million PRMRP with $5.4 million dedicated towards eating disorders and has again made eating disorders eligible for funding in 2019 within the increased $330 million PRMPR, with an estimate of upward of $6 million dedicated towards eating disorders. 

The effort was boldly led on the Appropriations Committee by Senate Defense Sub Committee Members Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and advocated through a bipartisan letter led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-ND) to Committee.  

Eating disorders are complex illnesses that can affect anyone.  However, certain risk factors – including intense focus on physical ability and athletic performance, as well as life-altering events and post-traumatic stress disorder – make military members a particularly at-risk demographic. 

Studies show eating disorders affect members of the military at a high rate, with one study reporting that 34% of active duty females showed at-risk signs for eating disorders. Children of military families also reported similar conditions at a significantly higher rate than the civilian population. However, federal funding for research for eating disorders is very limited, with only $0.93 per person affected by eating disorders compared to other diseases such as autism receiving $44 per person affected.

Members of the Armed Forces are also less likely to seek treatment, making prevention programs and access to treatment an imperative need across all branches. This research will greatly benefit many military members, their families and all Americans affected by these potentially life-threatening diseases. 

“Eating disorders can affect individuals of all ages and walks of life, including those in the military,” Senator Capito said. “It’s important that we continue working to help our servicemen and women who are struggling with eating disorders, and I am so happy we were able to ensure that once again the study of eating disorders is eligible for research funding through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). Since we first were able to get this area of study to be included in this program, I am thrilled to see that funding is now starting to come for the research we need. As a leader on the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight for these kind of resources to help men and women who put their lives on the line for our country.”

The PRMRP supports research across the full range of science and medicine, with an underlying goal of enhancing the health and well-being of military servicemembers, veterans, retirees and their family members. 

Increased funding through the PRMRP will offer an important opportunity to continue to study these life-threatening diseases – including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder – that are not well-understood, have limited treatment options and for which military service is associated with a heightened risk.

Commented Claire Mysko, CEO, NEDA, “We are grateful to Senators Klobuchar, Capito, Baldwin and Rounds for their vision and continued bipartisan leadership on behalf of the men and women who sacrifice for our country.  These funds will not only provide much-needed support for our servicemembers, who are at a higher risk for these life-threatening illnesses, but have a significant and positive impact on the eating disorders community as a whole.”

Other research programs currently funded through the PRMRP include diabetes, women’s heart disease, and Fragile X Syndrome, amongst others.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in New York City, is the leading U.S. non-profit organization supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Each year, NEDA helps millions of people across the country find information and appropriate treatment resources through its toll-free, live helpline, its many outreach programs and website. NEDA advocates for advancements in the field and envisions a world without eating disorders. For more information, visit www.MyNEDA.org