Contributor: Leigh Bell, BA, writer for Eating Disorder Hope
Research on eating disorders is a major influence on the understanding, awareness, and treatment of the illness. We still know very little about eating disorders, of which America didn’t truly become aware until 1983 when singer Karen Carpenter died from anorexia. One of her bandmates said he didn’t even know how to pronounce “anorexia” until 19801.
Little more than 30 years later, research has gained greater knowledge of eating disorders. We know they have a strong genetic link, effect mental and physical capability, and often co-occur with other psychological conditions. All of this information has or will change the way professionals treat eating disorders — and maybe one day cure them. Therefore it’s imperative the research continue.
Funding Is Tight
Unfortunately, research takes money, and government funding for eating disorder research is very low in comparison to funding for other issues, some of which are not as pervasive nor as fatal as eating disorders. U.S. federal funding for eating disorder research is $28 million a year (about $.93 for each person diagnosed with an eating disorder).
For this everyone is thankful, however, the figure is far lower than government-supported research for other conditions2:
- Alcoholism: $505 million (18 times more)
- Schizophrenia: $352 million (13 times more)
- Depression: $328 million (12 times more)
- Sleep disorders: $187 million (7 times more)
- Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): $105 million (4 times more)
Finding Alternative Means of Funding
Government dollars just aren’t enough — for most research these days, not just eating disorders — so eating disorder professionals can solicit private organizations that offer research grants.
For example, the Klarman Family Foundation awards three grants, totaling $550,000, to people conducting research into the biology of eating disorders with the longterm goal of helping people suffer. Research institutes also fund projects, such as the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia is funding the colossal Anorexic Nervosa Genetic Initiative, which is attempting to pinpoint genes directly related to anorexia.
Obviously opportunities for research funding are competitive, but they are necessary to improve treatment for eating disorders and save the lives lost to them.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
How has the research impacted the recovery of you or your loved one suffering from an eating disorder? (i.e. co-occurring disorders now being treated simultaneously, music therapy, pet therapy etc.)
About the Author:
Leigh Bell holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in Creative Writing and French from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She is a published author, journalist with 15 years of experience, and a recipient of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism. Leigh is recovered from a near-fatal, decade-long battle with anorexia and the mother of three young, rambunctious children.
- Latson, J. (2015, February 4). How Karen Carpenter’s Death Changed the Way We Talk About Anorexia. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
- Fast Facts on Eating Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2015, from http://www.aedweb.org/web/index.php/education/eating-disorder-information/eating-disorder-information-14#13
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 22nd, 2015
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com