United States Government Includes Funding for Eating Disorders Research through the Department of Defense!

Male Soldier

In recognition of the critical needs of military members and their families suffering from eating disorders, the Department of Defense‘s (DOD) Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) will once again dedicate funds for eating disorders research for prevention, intervention and treatment programs. Congress first made eating disorders eligible for funding in 2017 within the $300 million-dollar PRMRP with an expected $3 million dedicated towards eating disorders and has again made eating disorders eligible for funding in 2018 within the increased $330 million-dollar PRMPR, with an expected $5 million dedicated towards eating disorders.

Funded through the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (Omnibus Bill), the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) thanks Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) for leading the initiative.

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.

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, “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. We are thankful to Senators Klobuchar, Capito, and Baldwin for their leadership in fighting for the men and women who sacrifice for our country so they may receive the treatment they deserve. We are hopeful that these research funds will provide support for our servicemembers and have a long-lasting impact on the eating disorders community as a whole.”

Commented Senator Klobuchar, “Members of the military and their children are affected by eating disorders at significantly higher rates than their civilian counterparts and are less likely to seek treatment. Servicemembers and their families deserve the full support of our nation and its resources—that includes researching this particularly deadly mental illness to better understand it and to develop new and more effective treatment options.”

“I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to maintain a strong federal investment in eating disorders research at the Department of Defense for members of the military,” said Senator Baldwin. “We must continue to invest in more research funding and access to treatment so we can make a real difference in the lives of our servicemembers and all families struggling with eating disorders.”

“Eating disorders affect 30 million people in the United States, a percentage of which are members of the military. We need to provide our service members with the resources they need to live healthy and happy lives,” Senator Capito said. “I’m happy we were able to increase funding in the omnibus funding bill to support critical efforts related to eating disorders, and I will continue working to draw attention to this important issue.”

NEDA also thanks all advocates who participated in calls to action and reached out to their senators in support of this initiative. This could not have happened without you!