KIMT News 3 – A U.S. Senator from Minnesota is working to combat eating disorders. Earlier this week, Amy Klobuchar, alongside two other senators, introduced the Anna Westin Act. It is inspired by Anna Westin of Chaska Minnesota. She was diagnosed with anorexia when she was 16 and after battling the disease for five years, Anna committed suicide at the age of 21. Now Klobuchar and her counterparts want to do what they can to prevent this from happening again.
“It scares me, you know having daughters,” says father of three, T.J. Jumper.
I have a 12-year-old, she will be 13 in November and I have twin daughters that are going to be 10 in September.”
He is already starting to see them become more aware of their body image.
“My oldest is getting more to the age about dress and, you know her looks and that kind of thing,” says Jumper.
It’s normal behavior for an almost teen but for some, their obsession with body image takes over. In the U.S., 30 million people suffer from eating disorders and of that number, only one in ten people receive treatment.
“It’s a pressure that you don’t necessarily see because everybody puts on that face, that they are just fine, but you don’t necessarily know that there is a problem until perhaps something more overt occurs,” says Mason City and Clear Lake Schools Superintendent, Anita Micich.
It’s one reason why Senator Klobuchar is introducing legislation, using existing funds to create grant programs to train school personnel, primary care physicians and mental health professionals on how to identify and prevent eating disorders.
“More information that’s research-based that can help us be better at what we do is always welcome and always necessary,” says Micich.
Parents like Jumper agree because sometimes students will go to school personnel before their own parents.
“A lot of times they will want that independence, so they will try to handle the issue on their own and many times that means the parent might be the last to figure it out or it may be hidden from them,” says Jumper.
Of course, he would want to be informed.
“I would absolutely want to be notified if there were some concern about my child or children. I would want to know as soon as possible so that way I can help support them,” he says.
Just like parents, Micich says school personnel have a responsibility to promote a healthy body image because students learn from them when they are young.
In a statement, Klobuchar points out that anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder and says “Whether that is due to late detection or insufficient insurance coverage, we should be doing more to give patients like Anna’s the tools they need to overcome these diseases.”
Also according to Klobuchar’s statement, Anna Westin had to wait until their insurance company certified her medical costs which could have delayed and limited her treatment. It’s why the bill also requires health insurance companies cover residential treatment for eating disorders.