Healthy Support

How One Company Is Addressing Health Inequities in Eating Disorder Treatment

There is a common stereotype that eating disorders only affect thin, young White girls. But Kristina Saffran, CEO and co-founder of virtual eating disorder care company Equip, will be among the first to say that this is not true, despite fitting the stereotype.

“Eating disorders affect everybody. They affect people of all different ages, races, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes and sizes. These do not discriminate,” Saffran said during an interview last week at the Behavioral Health Tech 2023 conference in Phoenix.

“I am someone who fits the mold to a tee. … I was diagnosed with anorexia at 10, relapsed at 13, went into my pediatrician having lost 10 pounds and my pediatrician didn’t bat an eyelash. If I’m not getting identified, who is?” she continued.

San Diego, California-based Equip is trying to solve this issue through its virtual platform. The company connects patients with a care team,

Read the rest
Healthy Support

Eating Disorder Support Groups & Treatment Options

A 2020 report from Harvard STRIPED, the Academy for Eating Disorders, and Deloitte found that 9 percent of the U.S. population—28.8 million Americans—will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. Yet data shows that only 23 percent of people diagnosed with an eating disorder will ever get treatment for it. This is particularly concerning, considering that eating disorders are the second deadliest mental health condition in the U.S.

One of the biggest hurdles people face: stigma. Many people seeking treatment report being perceived as “responsible” for their eating disorder, and that others reacted negatively or distanced themselves after learning about the person’s eating disorder.

Eating disorder treatment has too many barriers to entry

Weight bias—the negative attitudes our society has towards fat people—also makes it harder for people who have an eating disorder to get diagnosed and treated, says Christine Byrne, RD, MPH, an anti-diet dietitian based

Read the rest
Healthy Support

Accolade Taps Equip for Eating Disorder Support

Eating disorders affect nearly one in 10 Americans and have the second-highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders after opioid addiction. A new partnership aims to bring additional support to patients struggling with eating disorders.

Integrated healthcare delivery and navigation company Accolade announced last week that it is working with Equip, a virtual provider of eating disorder support. Seattle, Washington-based Accolade serves employers, health plans and consumers through virtual primary care and mental health, expert medical opinions and care navigation. Equip, based in San Diego, California, virtually treats eating disorders by connecting patients with a five-person care team: a medical physician, dietician, therapist, peer mentor and family mentor. It works with most major health plans and cares for patients ages 6 to 24 in all 50 states.

Accolade added Equip to its Trusted Partner Ecosystem, a collection of health vendors vetted by Accolade that its customers can decide

Read the rest
Healthy Support

What does a chatbot know about eating disorders? Users of a help line are about to find out

This article is from a partnership that includes Michigan RadioNPR, and KFF Health News. 

For more than 20 years, the National Eating Disorders Association has operated a phone line and online platform for people seeking help for anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders. Last year, nearly 70,000 individuals used the help line.

NEDA shuttered that service in May, saying that, in its place, a chatbot called Tessa, designed by eating disorder experts with funding from NEDA, would be deployed.

When NPR aired a report about this last month, Tessa was up and running online. Since then, both the chatbot’s page and a NEDA article about Tessa have been taken down. When asked why, NEDA said the bot is being “updated,” and the latest “version of the current program [will be] available soon.”

Then NEDA announced on May 30 that it was indefinitely disabling Tessa. Patients, families, doctors,

Read the rest
Healthy Support

Terrible eating disorder chatbot is coming back

This article originally published on KFF Health News.

For more than 20 years, the National Eating Disorders Association has operated a phone line and online platform for people seeking help for anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders. Last year, nearly 70,000 individuals used the help line.

NEDA shuttered that service in May, saying that, in its place, a chatbot called Tessa, designed by eating disorder experts with funding from NEDA, would be deployed.

When NPR aired a report about this last month, Tessa was up and running online. Since then, both the chatbot’s page and a NEDA article about Tessa have been taken down. When asked why, NEDA said the bot is being “updated,” and the latest “version of the current program [will be] available soon.”

Then NEDA announced on May 30 that it was indefinitely disabling Tessa. Patients, families, doctors, and other experts on eating disorders were stunned.

Read the rest
Healthy Support

Finding help when eating becomes a battle

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The behavioral health specialists at Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services say that eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid addiction. With the number of people who struggle with disordered eating on the rise, KBHRS is encouraging people who need help to not be afraid to reach out.

Kern BHRS Supervisor Felicia Alcaraz says they primarily see young people, but that eating disorders can affect anyone of any age, gender, or body type.

“It looks different for everyone. For some, it could be whether it’s increased dieting, or for some it could be overly eating. It can be watching your weight to an extent that you’re hyperfocused on that diet, on what you’re eating and the calories you’re consuming,” said Alcaraz. “There is finding that healthy balance to keep you healthy and well, but then there’s that extremity on the other

Read the rest
Healthy Support

Eating disorder prevention starts at home. How to promote healthy habits for teens.

Medical care providers have been conditioned to identify individuals who are above average weight. Like broken records, we tell our patients, “Eat fewer calories. Exercise more.”

Obesity has serious complications, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, which can lead to shorter life spans. And it is increasingly affecting teens and adolescents, which is setting up young people to live a majority of their lives with chronic health conditions that, in the past, didn’t develop until later in life.

But there’s an unintended consequence of focusing so intently on reducing the risk of obesity that we often overlook: eating disorders.

Eating disorders can arise when people are pushed to lose weight but not given the proper tools and support to do so safely. Eating disorders are among the deadliest psychiatric illnesses, second only to opioid addiction. While obesity may contribute to death later on, an eating disorder can kill right

Read the rest
Healthy Support

NH teen pushes to add eating disorder hotline to student IDs

Two months into his summer break last year, Matthew Brown began to worry he had an eating disorder. Brown, who was then about to enter Merrimack High School as a freshman, did not want to talk to his parents about it. But he did want answers.

After a Google search, Brown found the National Eating Disorders Association hotline. The service offered a calling and a texting option; Brown chose texting. Quickly, he was put in touch with a trained volunteer, who helped him better understand his concerns.

“I think just getting it off my chest was helpful,” he said. “To have somebody just to talk to.”

Within a day, Brown had found the support he needed. The next day, he called up a local lawmaker, Rep. Rosemarie Rung, with an idea: to sponsor legislation to spread the word to other students.

House Bill 35 would require that all student

Read the rest