BRIDGEVILLE – Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) recently introduced legislation to increase awareness about eating disorders in children.
“Data, especially in recent months, has shown that social media has a negative effect on young people and contributes to increased body dissatisfaction and eating disorders,” Ortitay said. “With the growing use of social media, we need to take steps to bring attention to this issue. Many parents may not recognize the warning signs of an eating disorder. I’m hopeful this legislation will give parents the information they need and also help them recognize negative body image messages in society today.”
House Bill 2158
would require schools to annually provide parents and guardians of students in grades 6-12 with information regarding eating disorders. In addition, an eating disorder taskforce would be created within the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This task force would develop guidelines for the information provided by the schools.
“Eating disorders exist across the broad spectrum of age, race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomics affecting more than 30 million Americans,” said Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), who is sponsoring a similar bill in the Senate. “As we see younger children expressing dissatisfaction with their bodies and worries of weight gain, it’s important to equip parents early with up-to-date information and local resources on this condition.”
“Eating disorders often present themselves in children and adolescents, with the best hope for recovery attached to early identification and intervention,” said Martha Watson, Pennsylvania resident and advocate in memory of her daughter. “By providing parents and schools with tools to identify an eating disorder early and resources to help intervene, this bill will definitely save lives. I am passionate about raising awareness and understanding of eating disorders, as I lost my own daughter to an eating disorder. She was diagnosed at the age of 11, but sadly the eating disorder was already entrenched and though we fought a valiant 10-year battle, we lost her. I don't want other families to have the same outcome, so I have become a passionate advocate for raising awareness and understanding about eating disorders.”
“Eating disorders wreak havoc on Pennsylvania families, the local economy, and the already-overburdened medical system,” said Johanna Kandel, founder and CEO of the National Alliance for Eating Disorders. “With this legislation, parents and school leadership will be better equipped to recognize when eating disorders present themselves and to refer youth for appropriate care. Not one more life should be stolen by this insidious disease. The National Alliance for Eating Disorders strongly urges the Pennsylvania Legislature to swiftly pass House Bill 2158 and Senate Bill 988 because students deserve better.”
“I have been passionately working with Pennsylvania legislators on this bill over the years to raise awareness of the serious nature of eating disorders,” said Emily Rosenberg, Pennsylvania resident, advocate and eating disorder survivor. “My hope is for parents and guardians to become educated on eating disorders to help with early identification and prevent long-term suffering. As a survivor, I use my voice and lived experience to educate and bring hope to those struggling by sharing the message that recovery is possible. Eating disorders are not a choice and nobody deserves a life with one. I did not give up on my recovery and I will not give up the fight to pass this needed legislation.”
House Bill 2158 has been referred to the House Education Committee for review.
The 46th Legislative District includes Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg, McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships and Burgettstown, McDonald and Midway boroughs in Washington County.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick