National Eating Disorders Association

U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations Approves Increased Funding for Eating Disorders Research in FY 2021

NEW YORK CITY — July 31, 2020 — The House of Representatives, in its Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Report, approved NEDA’s request urging the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to increase federal funding for eating disorders research in Fiscal Year 2021. 

While eating disorders have the highest treatment cost of any mental health condition and the second highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, second only to opioid use disorder, the NIH has historically underfunded research into these disorders. Between 2015 and 2018, the NIH spent only 0.11% of its budget on eating disorders research, and the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) only spent 1.27% of its budget on eating disorders research during the same period. The recognition in the Appropriations Report of the need for increased funding by NIH will significantly impact research in the field. Specifically, the Report reads:

The Committee commends NIH for supporting multi-Institute research on the chronic, fatal, and serious mental illnesses encompassing eating disorders that affect 30 million Americans during their lifetimes, and its association with other conditions such as diabetes, infertility, heart disease, PTSD, substance use, co-morbid mental illnesses, and tooth decay. The Committee recognizes that eating disorders are a deadly bio-psycho-social illness and that multiple research topics must be explored to understand, prevent, and treat eating disorders, including psychosocial issues; health disparities and food insecurity; environmental factors such as weight stigma; the complex interplay of metabolic processes; and maternal health. The Committee encourages NIH to increase support for eating disorders research and explore these and other research questions through multiple Institutes and Centers, including NIMH, NIDDK, NIMHD, and NIDA. The Committee directs NIH to inform the Committee on the steps taken to increase support for eating disorders and measures taken to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of eating disorders in the fiscal year 2022 Congressional Justification.

Preliminary data from the University of North Carolina Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and colleagues suggests the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting those with eating disorders through exacerbated symptoms and barriers to treatment. The importance of further supporting research and data dissemination on issues pertinent to the health and mental health effects of eating disorders will be even more important during the continuation of and following this public health crisis and cannot be overstated.

Increased eating disorders research funding by the NIH will only strengthen our community’s response to the pandemic and ensure that best practices for meeting the needs of this vulnerable population are established. The effort to include this important provision was led by Appropriations Committee member Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA-5) and through the leadership of a bipartisan letter led by Representatives Kendra Horn (R-OK-5) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1). Chief Policy and Strategy Officer for NEDA, Chevese Turner, commented, “We are grateful to Representatives Clark, Fitzpatrick, and Horn for their leadership on behalf of those with eating disorders. Their commitment to increase and enhance research into these deadly disorders will undoubtedly help save lives.”

"As the pandemic continues to expose fault lines in our health care system, it’s more important than ever that those who suffer from eating disorders get the help they need,” said Congresswoman Katherine Clark. "NIH has been invaluable in helping us uncover the risk factors that lead to eating disorders and other mental illnesses. I’m grateful to NEDA and my colleagues who continue to raise awareness because we cannot effectively diagnose and treat the problem until we fully understand it." 

“Thirty million Americans suffer from eating disorders,” said Congresswoman Kendra Horn. “We know that the impact on their lives can be debilitating and fatal, but we still have much to learn about the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and impact of these chronic diseases. Mental health is a critical component of overall health and investments in cutting-edge research will provide millions of Americans with longer, healthier, and more productive lives. I was proud to work alongside NEDA for increased eating disorder research funding, and I will continue to fight for stronger investments in mental health.”

“Eating disorders affect Americans of every age, orientation, race, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, and when left untreated, can lead to other serious health conditions,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. “I am pleased to see the House include report language to increase eating disorders research funding under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) so that the NIH can continue to elevate research into eating disorders as a priority.”

In February, as part of NEDAwareness Week, advocates from across the country met with their Members of Congress to share their stories and gain support for the inclusion of increased funding for eating disorders research through the NIH. The inclusion of this groundbreaking language by the House Committee on Appropriations is a nod to the strength and power of the NEDA community to create change, and to the importance of individual involvement in advocacy efforts. To learn more about NEDA’s state and federal policy work and to participate in future actions, please visit https://p2a.co/pNz3VSr.

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ABOUT THE NATIONAL EATING DISORDERS ASSOCIATION

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Through our programs and services, NEDA raises awareness, builds communities of support and recovery, funds research and puts life-saving resources into the hands of those in need. For more information, visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

CONTACT

Kylee Siaw

Momentum Communications Group

[email protected]

281-881-0721

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