DENVER (AP) — Amid a rise in eating disorders nationwide, Colorado’s acting governor signed bills Tuesday that would create a state program to combat mental illness, using body mass index in determining treatment. will restrict the use and sale of diet pills to minors.
Colorado and several other states tackling the problem are responding to the nearly 30 million Americans — roughly the population of Texas — who will struggle with an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, in their lifetime. According to data from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, more than 10,000 people will die from the condition each year.
“Eating disorders are serious and have one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness,” Mental Health Colorado CEO Vincent Atti said in a statement about the bills. “We will save lives by removing barriers to care and helping people who are struggling to find a cure.”
The changes will take effect at different times, but within about a year.
One of the bills, signed by Colorado Lt. Gov. Diane Primavera as acting governor, would largely eliminate the use of body mass index, or BMI, to determine treatment levels for eating disorders. Although this is an industry standard. .
Supporters of the new law say the centuries-old BMI — a calculation of one’s height and weight — is outdated and flawed.
Claire Engels, program coordinator for the Eating Disorder Foundation, which supports the bill, said eating disorders are not always linked to body weight or BMI. Instead, they center around eating habits, anxiety, depression, trauma and control. This means that people with eating disorders that fall outside the BMI prescription struggle to receive appropriate care or are prematurely dismissed from treatment.
Instead, the law would force health insurers to consider a patient’s eating habits, heart rate or blood pressure over other criteria when determining treatment coverage.
The same law would also limit the sale of diet pills to minors after experts argued they could exacerbate, or trigger, eating disorders.
A second bill signed Tuesday would create a state program that would offer resources on eating disorders, administer grants for mental illness research, and raise awareness among students, parents and staff in the public and in schools. will do
gave The pandemic worsened the crisis. By pushing some, especially teenagers, into isolation, filling hospital beds and further burdening already overwhelmed treatment centers. Colorado is joined by several states, including California, New York and Texas, in considering bills to end the problem this year.
Other proposals across the U.S. include restricting social media algorithms from promoting potentially harmful content and curriculum on eating disorders in middle and high schools.
Bedine is a core member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on classified issues.
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