June 4, 2008

BBMI

What a marvelously ambiguous title:
Aetna Agrees to Treat Eating Disorders Like Mental Illness

It IS an mental illness: meaning it is a biologically based disease. Not because of the physical ravages of malnutrition, bingeing, or purging that the patient has chosen to do - but because something is wrong with brain function.

Aetna is agreeing - though the deal's not done yet - to treat anorexia and bulimia for what they are: devastating conditions that require intervention. Not a choice. Not a bad habit. Not self-destructive impulses.

A real brain disease that is TREATABLE. And that is the business of health insurance, no?

3 comments:

  1. That was my thought exactly.
    And this:
    Why do we trivialize diseases of our MOST IMPORTANT organ AT ALL?

    */sigh
    I'm going to tilt at a windmill, brb....

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  2. Laura, You really need to step back from this a little. I've never seen a parent more intent on making her poor child out to have a mental disease. It is not biologically plausible for 10-25% of young people (namely girls) in industrialized cultures to suddenly have brain disorders... that almost universally (but for very rare exceptions of psychiatric problems or cases among third world cultures exposed to industrialized weight ideals) appear after dieting and weight/body obsessions.

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  3. Hi Anonymous,
    Are you sure you're citing statistics for EDs? If so, do you know where they come from? Many times, the popular press conflate Disordered Eating (bad and dangerous habits) with Eating Disorders (diseases which are rooted in biology).
    "Dieting" - the pattern of eating less than maintainence calories and restricting calories from one or more foood groups is a risk factor associated with developing an ED. Most estimates with which I'm familiar put the prevelance of combined EDs at ~5% (+/-) of the population. But here in the US, I think many surveys indicate that "dieting" is normative - most people do it at some point. Anorexia Nervosa is estimated at ~1%, and that has been shown to be fairly stable across time and across cultures - a rate that is very similar to schizophrenia, in fact. So the numbers don't add up to a cause = effect relationship.

    Rather, many of us carry a biological predisposition where one person manifests a disease process in response to a change in environment that others are able to tolerate easily.
    Pollen+(no asthma) = sneeze
    Pollen+asthma = asthma attack
    PB&J+(no allergy) = yummy lunch
    PB&J+peanut allergy = anaphalaxis
    Flashing lights+(none) = headache
    Flashing lights+epilepsy = siezure
    Dieting+(no ED) = cranky, hungry
    Dieting+(ED) = Pandora's BOX

    I'd be very interested to read where the statistics you cited came from, though, if you could reference them.
    Take care,

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