Gov’t asked to address eating disorders among youth
MANILA, Philippines — Parañaque Rep. Gustavo Tambunting is pushing for a measure that would task agencies to come up with a public information drive on the horrific effects of eating disorders, particularly among Filipino youth.
Tambunting’s House Bill No. 4318, or the proposed Eating Disorders Awareness Prevention and Education Act, will also tap the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to conduct extensive research to effectively curb, identify and treat students suffering from eating disorders.
In his explanatory note, Tambunting noted: “In recent years, there has been an increase in rates of body satisfaction among the youth globally. In Asia, there has been a growing prevalence of eating disorders among the youth.”
“Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and others, have detrimental health consequences such as obesity, heart disease, gallbladder disease, diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure, osteoporosis and death,” he said.
“Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders — making a young woman 12 times more likely to die than other women her age without anorexia.”
“Considering these detrimental health consequences, it is the responsibility of the State to adopt measures for the identification and prevention of eating disorders, especially among the youth,” Tambunting said.
He pointed out that eating disorders would typically being in adolescence.
In his proposed measure, Tambunting seeks to “provide increased public awareness of eating disorders and capacitate and provide parents, guardians and educators the means and flexibility to improve awareness of, identify and help students with eating disorders.”
HB 4318 defines an eating disorder as a “disturbance in eating behavior such as extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake (anorexia nervosa) or severe overeating (bulimia nervosa and/or binge eating disorder), as well as feelings of distress or extreme concern about body shape or weight.”
Under the proposed measure, the DepEd, the CHEd, and the DOH would be tasked to provide programs to “improve the identification of students with eating disorders … so that they may receive appropriate medical treatment; increase awareness of such disorders among parents and students; and train educators, such as teachers, school nurses, school social workers, coaches, school counselors, and administrators, on effective eating disorder prevention and assistance methods.”
The House bill would also task the agencies to come up with public service announcements on identifying and preventing eating disorders and provides: “Not later than 18 months after the enactment of this Act, the DepEd, CHEd, and the DOH shall conduct a study on the impact eating disorders have on educational advancement and achievement.”
The research would involve determining the prevalence of eating disorders among students as well as their morbidity and mortality rates; evaluating the extent to which students with eating disorders are more likely to miss school, have delayed rates of development, or have reduced cognitive skills; reporting on and assessing the value of current national and local programs to educate youth on the dangers of eating disorders; and making recommendations on measures to strengthen eating disorder prevention and awareness programs.
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