Eating disorders a growing concern in Canada

by | Feb 11, 2013 | News

By Dion Caputi

Eating disorders are becoming increasingly problematic in Canada as physicians and associated health groups are uneasy over the lack of available treatment to patients.

Clinics specializing in eating disorders indicate a rising number of Canadians — of all ages — exploring options to help improve their problem.

The National Initiative for Eating Disorders  said eating disorders are the deadliest mental illness, carrying the highest mortality rate.

NIED founder, president and chief advocate Wendy Preskow said she considers the training of front line individuals and raising awareness as two primary points of emphasis.

“Even though there are campaigns, eating disorders are never mentioned. Maybe it’s public ignorance,” Preskow said. “It also boils down to training of doctors, nurses, case workers, police, (and) teachers.”

According to a CTV News report, the number of Canadians affected by eating disorders varies between 150,000 to upwards of 600,000.

Shockingly, despite the high figure of patients, there are only 20 adult beds available for intensive care in Ontario.

Patricia Kelly, a co-founder of New Realities Eating Disorder Recovery Centre and psychotherapist with 30 years of experience, echoed Preskow’s sentiment.

“No, I don’t think that there are enough resources in the medical system dedicated to eating disorders,” said Kelly. “The waiting list in Canada is very lengthy.”

Physicians said the number of cases has increased by two-to-three times over the previous generation. What’s more, roughly three per cent of women deal with an eating disorder over their lifetime.

Eating disorder patients typically struggle with severe under-eating or overeating with the intention of purging in order to maintain a desired body weight. Two highly common types of disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. This stunts personal growth and fertility, as well as increase the risk of early death.