The Need for National Initiative for Eating Disorders

Too many people are unaware that Eating Disorders are severe mental illnesses with the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. They affect people from all cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. The numbers continue disturbingly to grow affect even younger children and older adults. WENDY PRESKOW, FOUNDER OF NIED , THE NATIONAL

Eating disorders are a disease of the brain. Through tenacious advocacy, NIED strives to ensure Eating Disorders are included in mental health discussions, policies, programs and campaigns.

As the catalyst for stakeholders across Canada, NIED has identified 6 pillars to create the framework for a National Eating Disorder Strategy — Research, Education, Treatment, Training, Advocacy and Prevention.

Provincial and federal governments are not tracking the incidence with which this deadly illness occurs. Statistics regarding Eating Disorders are not properly recorded. Approximately 80% of individuals with Eating Disorders have concurrent illnesses such as obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, severe depression, early onset of osteoporosis and drug addiction, and often engage in self harm. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in those with Eating Disorders, after cardiac arrest.

Eating Disorders affect physiological, biological, behavioural, emotional, cognitive and social functioning, which require substantive therapeutic collaboration between professionals, parents, and families. Treatment requires a team approach combining medical, nutritional, psychological, and psychiatric professionals.

“The serious gaps in current services, delays in treatment, lack of Canadian data, and insufficient training for clinicians and healthcare professionals have impeded resources, research, funding and available treatment options in Canada,” Ms. Preskow said. “We send young patients to the U.S. paying hundreds of thousands U.S. dollars for them to be away from their own family support systems in Canada, returning to little or no support from provincial sources.”

Early intervention and diagnoses, can lead to a successful recovery. However, Family Physicians receive little to no training in medical school curricula. An analysis of Canadian medical training programs indicated that the average amount of time family medicine students received education about Eating Disorders throughout their entire training was only 3.5 hours. NIED is developing a Continuing Medical Education program for doctors.

Eating Disorders kill sufferers, bankrupt families and destroy relationships. They deserve the same respect, support, treatment, funding, research and parity as every other physical and mental health illness in Canada.

Help NIED take action.
Contact Wendy Preskow, or visit